Sandy Gas Shortage Causing Panic, Long Lines

From Long Valley to Bloomfield, fuel is scarce and tempers are high in northern New Jersey.

Two days after Sandy severed power to most of North Jersey, dwindling fuel supplies set off a stampede to service stations Wednesday, as empty tank-toting thousands waited hours to pay at the pump.

Tensions often ran high as gasoline for cars and generators became more scarce by the second.

Lines of people holding red canisters stretched into the dozens, while scores of cars backed up onto highways.

"Avoid Morristown. Gas stations are out of fuel, please make other arrangements,” an alert from Morristown Police read Wednesday afternoon.

"Everyone's panicking because all their gas tanks are on 'E,'" said one officer as he restricted access to Morristown’s Abbett Avenue in one direction because the mad rush to Dean's Tire Service there had gotten out of hand.

Morristown, of course, wasn’t the only town that saw lack of fuel or lines of cars spanning blocks.

Over in the triboro, which includes Kinnelon, Butler and Bloomingdale, not a single gas station was operating due to lack of electricity, and that same problem spread to nearby Montville, too.

Waiting in a line nearly a quarter-mile long in Ridgewood was all for naught Tuesday, according to one Wyckoff resident.

“The line was stretched past Whole Foods and then all of the sudden everyone disbursed because the station ran out of gas,” Christine Stanley Becker said on Facebook. “They are still out.”

Governor Christie late Wednesday moved to boost supplies of gasoline and diesel by waiving requirements that affect stations from buying fuel from out-of-state suppliers.

The waiver will be in place until Nov. 7, and was made necessary by the shutdown of pipelines and refineries in the wake of Sandy.

“When shortages threaten after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, fuel buyers need to venture farther from state borders to ensure that their customers get the gasoline and diesel they need,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said. “Temporarily suspending licensing is a prudent way of empowering merchants to buy fuel farther from the state line, boosting supplies for New Jersey motorists who need fuel to get to work and do their jobs.”

But what happens when a lack of power and the need for liquid gold meet? Disputes that can quickly boil over like the one that occurred in Parsippany Wednesday afternoon.

At the Raceway gas station on Route 10, a line of of cars stretched down the highway for nearly a mile, and on the other side, walk-up patrons stood idly by with gas cans used to fill their generators, Mendham-Chester Patch Editor Russ Crespolini said.

One driver demanded the line of can-carriers explain where they had come from.

“I’ve been waiting in my car for two hours and you just walked up here with your can?” one angry motorist said.

At that point, a 30-minute delay ensued as the computer system controlling the pumps shut down, Crespolini said.

When the pumps were reactivated, tempers flared again, as a scuffle between two can carriers broke out when one of the men filled his pick-up truck with gas after topping off his gas can, Crespolini said.

The fighting was for naught, however, since the pump activation only lasted two minutes, and all remaining consumers were sent home empty handed.

A line of cars 50 deep on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell were turned away Wednesday afternoon, when cones were placed in front of pumps at 2:30 p.m. after residents filled cars and gas cans all morning, according to Caldwells Patch Editor Teresa Akersten.

Earlier in the day, Maria Bermingham of Cedar Grove was about 20th in line. She said she was filling up gas cans for her father’s generator and for her own generator, which her husband purchased Wednesday morning to power the house.

Gas in Chatham wasn’t truly a commodity, as the Gulf station in the borough held regular hours all day. With that, however, came extremely long lines.

Beggars couldn’t be choosers in Hasbrouck Heights, where just one station was pumping. The Citgo on Williams and Terrace could only offer premium fuel as the day wore on.

In Bloomfield, officials said gas stations in town were the only ones in the immediate area to have power. For that reason, drivers from Belleville, Newark and Nutley had to wait on unbelievably long lines to fill their tanks, with some waiting for close to two hours.

Patch editors from across Northern New Jersey contributed to this report.

What's your story? How long did you wait in line for gas since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey? Tell us in the comments section and upload your own photos.

M Di November 01, 2012 at 10:49 AM
So what gas stations are actually open with gas? Exxon on rt 23 south by willowbrook had long line last night and is closed this AM.
John Mitchell November 01, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Mitt Romney came out and was spoon feeding us caviar yesterday by the water. It was mahvuhluss, simply mahvuhluss. Who neeeds gas when we've got jet fuel?
Joseph November 01, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Romney wants to eliminate FEMA as the go to agency. He wants to put the cost of assisting in emergencies back in the States balance sheets. I think FEMA is essential. It does so much more than provide emergency food, shelter and medical care, but if an Insurance Company refuses to insure a property, why should FEMA? FEMA stop granting Insurance to anyone in a flood zone. If you cannot afford to rebuild why should it be paid for by taxpayers.
Ron181 November 01, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Is Washington Twp going to pick up tree limbs if they're put at the curb? Last storm they did. Just curious and would like to know before we put them out.
LVMom November 01, 2012 at 01:01 PM
you'd be surprised how much gas a generator goes through
Mad Jerseyite November 01, 2012 at 01:24 PM
@ Flood Plain you sir(or madam) are a moron. How can you blame this on Obama? Can we go through recovery and get situated again before you people start on your racist/biased rants against OUR commander and chief? If you blame anyone it starts with our LOCAL gov't not going through proper preparations after Irene and the snow storm last year. Our systems are built to old specs, not specs conducive to withstanding hurricanes. Second, PSE&G which is an effing joke, seems like they have no plan of action. By all accounts they are scattered about NJ "assessing" damage. I have not seen a PSE&G truck yet. There is no way this is Obama's fault. And honestly, I doubt Mitt would handle this better. Let's not forget Bush's fly-over during Katrina. I don't trust a republican as far as I can punch one
Just my opinion November 01, 2012 at 01:46 PM
A lack of power is due to 1. The catastrophic storm 2. The electric companies. Even Gov Christie announced that the current fines of $100 per day aren't enough to entice these companies to be "storm ready". You really think PSE&G cares about $100 a day? And if the electricity was back on, more gas stations would be open and people wouldn't have such a high demand to keep their generators running. State officials have already stated the electric companies have failed to comply with state mandates to be prepared for emergency situations. Why not ask Christie and the rest of the NJ bureaucrats why the bill to ACTUALLY fine these guys is just sitting there and hasn't been passed?
BellairBerdan November 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Makes going solar to achieve some real personal energy independence sound a bit better
gina s. November 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
You people with the political comments make me sick. Who cares Republican or Democrat...we need fuel.....instead of wasting time with your stupid comments, tell me where or when we can expect to get fuel?????
The Good Guy November 01, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Can you say Mad Max?
David Bandfield November 01, 2012 at 07:12 PM
How about a law requiring stations to have a generator to run at least some of their pumps? They certainly have the fuel to run them! Make the oil companies - not the station owner - pay for it: they can truly afford it. You can be sure we will find ourselves in this situation again.
Yankeefan November 01, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Way to be realistic about FEMA. You want FEMA trucks in areas with nothing more than power outages, you'd need to increase their budget 100 fold. From my prospective, our life has been minimally disrupted as compared to the coastal communities that have been devastated. If I see a FEMA truck in Wayne or Montclair, I call to complain and ask why the heck they're not down in Seaside Heights, Atlantic City, LBI, Staten Island, Point Pleasant.
Theresa November 01, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Why oh why are so many people always relying on the government to take care of them??? We all got plenty of warning this mega storm was coming and I for one battened down the hatches and prepared. Remember Katrina?? I'm not rich, I don't have 10 big gas cans but I got as ready as I could and I'm not going to whine or blame the governor or president for the inconvenience we have to deal with after a natural disaster. I am grateful I still have a home and my heartfelt sympathies to those who lost theirs. Less moaning and more pulling together people!
Kirk November 01, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I can only blame Christie our ambitious Governor and a lax PSE&G..... Gas situation is predictable and "slim" was unprepared and PSE&G because I haven't seen one truck anywhere but plenty of gas lines... Thumbs down and finger up to the Governor and PSE&G
clyde donovan November 01, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Obama could have sent a fleet of miitary tankers to New Jersey to deliver gasoline. He's the one who made all the grand promises. I guess he's home now planning Michelle's next vacation at the taxpayers expense.
Sir November 01, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Kirk I bet you are part of the 50% who pay no taxes and also want govt to do everything for them.
schabadoo November 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Everyone pays taxes. Gas, booze, basically anything but food has a tax. How sharp are you?
Steven M. Weber November 01, 2012 at 10:31 PM
There's now a map of open gas stations: Mappler.net/gasstation If you know about a station that's not listed, you can tweet it to @dzoraida06 and they will put it up.
Sir November 01, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Schabadoo you are one of the free loaders.
schabadoo November 01, 2012 at 11:51 PM
'Free' means I don't pay. I do pay. That makes you...?
denise November 02, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Ventured out from top of middle valley rd on Califon rdright on pleasant grove rd left down Schooleys Mtn rd into hackettstowbwhere I saw huge line to station by diner by old skate rink. Hasting square residences n business full power... Most fast food open, went to ATM by Marshall's n saw a few cars fueling up... They said they were waiting but clearly pumping gas,one man said he swiped his cc and it comes out very slowly. There was something hokey about it... No attendants???i decided to go on the other line by diner but just then the station I was leaving hot flooded n I was pushed in opposite direction. I thought there might be gas at Exxon at naughright, no n I found budd lake a ghost town ......made it to Netcong heights gave relative food n money n now headed further on 46 into ledgewood Succasunna ...Shoprite fully open! Got in gas line 45 cars at ten they ran out of gas. Cops told me go ahead to Exxon, I was on e now.... That line Fifty cars deep cops said they have only a little gas and park the car somewhere because you'll have to wait for morning delivery at five!.... Ten more hours ??? Freeze in car? I prayed n went through town to 206 south past Bartley rd, to Chester. Dq open all shops have lites no gas anywhere , took 24 into long valley all the way to Califon Exxon next to A&p, no gas! Up sliker road on home stretch to middle valley ...... Home on fumes,
denise November 02, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Moral of story is by the time you hear a place has gas, they'll be out of gas
MTSO November 02, 2012 at 05:53 AM
The last time we had gas lines like this was when Jimmy Carter was president. Obama is finished unless he gets fuel to the tri-state area pronto. He talks about FEMA giving out Pampers and crap. Get us fuel and we will find what we need. Stores are open but you can't get there without fuel. FEMA, bring in fuel and generators for gas stations.
Terry November 02, 2012 at 06:08 AM
With this unhinged 'Logic' I do believe you've proved that the president is responsible for Sandy. Read Christie's statements on recovery priorities before damming Obama out of hand in service to your personal politics.
Anonymous November 02, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Nice misrepresentation of someone's comment. They never said Obama caused the hurricane, just that his Federal Emergency Management Agency was doing NOTHING to help with the burning issue of the day - Gasoline. Does anyone know what FEMA is doing? They aren't rescuing anyone, rebuilding, or providing aid and comfort? Here's their website's take on their contribution - "The entire federal family continues to lean forward to support the states, tribes and communities in their ongoing response efforts as they work to save lives. We also continue to work with the entire emergency management team, including with our state, tribal and local partners, the voluntary and faith-based community, the private sector, and we continue to encourage the public to be safe and listen to the direction of their state, tribal and local officials. We understand that those who are anxious to return home following the storm, but we are asking for everyone to be patient and to wait for directions from their tribal and local officials. There may be hazards that prevent you from being able to return home such as downed power lines, road closures, roads or bridges that are impassable, and traffic lights not working. In addition to the updates on this page, visit our blog." So they worked in the Obama campaign phrase (Forward.), but little else.
cybear November 02, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Sorry, but if you have a car built after late 1990s (especially 2000 forward), there is an anti-siphon device in the fuel and possibly a check valve which will not allow you to siphon 1 ounce of gas from the full tank. Suggest you call regional dealer (if you have cell battery or power) for your car make and confirm the bad news, unless you have a service manual where you can read it yourself. No bypass on these devices other than removing the fuel pump or opening the pressurized fuel line which is dangerous for the 99% non-professional mechanics out there.
Concerned November 03, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Hey Bellaire if Bush were president would you be saying it's the governor? I don't think so!
amy wall November 03, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Everyone is on edge. Everyone is fed up. We planned the best we could. It sucks not to have power or gas but if you have a roof over your head and your family is safe...you're a step ahead.
Nicholas Cataldi November 05, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Gasoline should only be given to those with automobiles who have a priority such as work, or school. Not to those with gas cans who want to go run their generators so they can waste gasoline doing what? Reading a book with the living room light on, watching TV? Microwave some fattening food? We will all survive with out power for a few weeks. Stop being a bunch of whining assholes and use the excuse to start a diet, eat healthier. Etc... We have our military over seas with out power surviving just fine. This is America bla bla let's rebuild bla bla. Leave all the emotional political bull shit for Hollywood, and let's come together, relax, and move forward.
schabadoo November 06, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Did you mean 'priority should be given to those with generators, who are at home instilling American Values into their children'? Our military has an abundance of generators. You don't sound very familiar with our Armed Forces.


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