* New York fuel supply crunch called worse than the 1970s
* Angry Long Island customers protest power utility
* Christie says rebuilding New Jersey shore will take time
By Daniel Trotta and David Sheppard
NEW YORK, Nov 9 New York City began rationing
gasoline on Friday for the first time since the energy shortages
of the 1970s, seeking to ease a fuel crisis brought on by
The former hurricane hammered the U.S. East Coast on Oct.
29, killing at least 120 people and causing an estimated $50
billion in damage or economic losses.
It also disrupted the fuel supply chain, creating hours-long
waits for gasoline that led officials first in New Jersey and
now New York City and Long Island to impose rationing. Cars with
odd- and even-numbered license plates will be able to buy gas
and diesel fuel on alternate days.
"This is worse than the oil crises of the 1970s," said Ralph
Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State
Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops. "Back then
there was just a perceived shortage of supply in New York, when
there was plenty of gasoline around. Now we're having real
The long lines at the pump have added to the frustration of
commuters, who must choose between driving and enduring
seemingly interminable waits for buses and trains with parts of
the transportation network still damaged.
In addition, some 434,000 homes and businesses in the
Northeast lacked power as of Friday afternoon, creating more
misery for the thousands forced to flee their storm-damaged
homes or for those who have hunkered down in the dark with
freezing overnight temperatures.
Protesters took to the streets in the Long Island town of
Oceanside on Friday, chanting, "Where is LIPA? Where is LIPA?"
referring to the Long Island Power Authority, a state-owned
A snowstorm blasted the region on Wednesday, knocking out
power to some homes just as they were getting back on the grid
after Sandy. Warmer and sunny weather was forecast for the
weekend, providing some relief to disaster victims.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg at first resisted gas rationing, saying fuel
supplies should return to normal once New York Harbor reopened
after the storm and tankers started sailing again.
But many gasoline terminals - which transfer fuel from
tankers at sea to trucks on land - sustained damage from the
storm that created a record surge of seawater and flooded
Because of long lines at terminals, gasoline trucks were
only able to make two trips on Friday, when normally they would
make six, Bombardiere said. The odd-even rationing "should help
cut down on panic buying," he said.
But despite the new measure, long lines at gas pumps in New
York City and Long Island continued on Friday. Some 28 percent
of gas stations in the New York metropolitan area did not have
fuel available for sale on Thursday, down from 38 percent on
Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
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Gas lines were considerably shorter in New Jersey, and
Governor Chris Christie said he expected power to be restored to
100 percent of the state by Saturday night.
But Christie, who toured the New Jersey shore on Friday,
said the rebuilding effort for vacation towns would be "long,
expensive and hard," and said it would not be completed in time
for next summer. "This is our Katrina," he declared.
In the Rockaways, a hard-hit area of Long Island, New York,
a group of military veterans known as Team Rubicon helped
residents shovel sand away from their homes, remove rotted
drywall from basements and haul large items to the sidewalk.
At the sidewalk, New York sanitation officials used huge
tractors to scoop the debris into dump trucks and hauled it
Peter Meijer, a Team Rubicon member who just returned from a
trip helping refugees in South Sudan, said the work was
gratifying. "This is more satisfying than even my time in the
A week after Sandy, Doctors Without Borders established
temporary emergency clinics in the hard-hit Rockaways - a
barrier island in Queens facing the Atlantic Ocean - to tend to
residents of high-rises who still lacked power and heat and were
left isolated by the storm.
"A lot of us have said it feels a lot like being in the
field in a foreign country," said Manhattan doctor Lucy Doyle,
who has worked for the medical relief organization in Africa.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was
providing mobile homes to people displaced by the storm, a
reminder of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast seven years ago.
Some evacuees would be housed nearly 200 miles (320 km) from
home, FEMA said, because there was little available space closer
to the city.
Manhattan stores and restaurants have yet to recover. Some
are awaiting emergency loans, while others are trying to make it
on their own.
"We don't have the product to sell," said Zach Mack, a
co-owner of the ABC Beer Co, which flooded last week, knocking
out electricity for days. "And we don't have the people to sell