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Queens residents slept in their cars, pulled guns on each other and combed the borough from end to end searching for gas in the days after Superstorm Sandy.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said Friday City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s (D-Manhattan) office told him more gas may not be coming for three or four days at best.
He said the gas shortages were making the efforts of his office to get donated supplies to those in need very difficult.
“Everyone who wants to help has no gas,” he said. “This is outrageous. Why didn’t the federal government prepare for this?”
Vallone said the gas shortages have occurred because New York Harbor is not clear, some refineries are out and some gas stations do not have power.
“There are stations fully capable of pumping gas that don’t have it, and there are gas stations that do have gas but don’t have electricity,” he said.
At a Gulf gas station on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 35th Avenue, a tanker arrived with the precious liquid around 11 a.m., which was a relief for LaDawn Andrews, who heard that Bayside was stocked with fuel and scoured the neighborhood for three hours, waiting for three hours before finding the oasis.
“They were fighting and carrying on across the street,” said a friend of Andrews who was with her at the pump, referring to a Citgo station that was out of fuel, but still the scene of heated arguments that prompted police to cordon off the area.
A crew of officers stood watch over the Gulf station as eager customers awaited their turn.
The line stretched for blocks, but John Romano, who delivers Gulf fuel for the Cumberland Farms convenience chain, said the pumps would not operate for more than a few hours before running dry.
“It’s because of the power outage,” said Romano, who had to drive to Connecticut and back to deliver the fuel because of the massive outages on Long Island, where he usually gets his gasoline.
One northeast Queens resident had prepared a stockpile of goods to donate to a local shelter, but upon starting his car Friday morning found that all the fuel had been siphoned out overnight.
A delivery driver waited in Elmhurst for five hours starting at 5 a.m. only to be turned away once the tanks ran dry.
Motorists reported sleeping in their cars to get first crack at any available gas Friday morning, and one Queens man even tried to cut in line by threatening fellow commuters with a firearm, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday, Sean Bailey, 35, of 111-14 204th St. in St. Albans pulled his 2010 BMW ahead of another car waiting in line for gas at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard and 43rd Street.
When the motorist behind him complained, Bailey allegedly pointed a handgun at him and said: “If you don’t pull back, you’re not getting gas tonight,” according to the DA.
Bailey was subsequently cuffed and faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, which could bring up to 15 years behind bars if he is convicted.
Gov, Andrew Cuomo announced that newly opened ports and the continued restoration of electricity across the area should begin to mitigate the crisis.
Cuomo and state legislators waived red tape requirements for tankers making deliveries and tried to expedite how fuel is pulled off of barges entering New York Harbor..
“There is no reason to panic,” Cuomo said, adding that while it will take time to restore normal fuel distribution, it will happen.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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