NEW YORK — Gasoline is now flowing freely into the New York area after a citywide fuel shortage prompted long lines at gas stations and left many motorists frustrated and stranded, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
Two million barrels of gasoline were being offloaded into port as of Friday morning, a Coast Guard official added, and tankers loaded down with were continuing to make their way into the New York area.
“There should be a real change in condition,” Cuomo said. “People should see it quickly.”
“This was a major major assault by mother nature that we went through," Cuomo added. "It’s not going to be a one or two or three day situation. But with the gasoline, it should get better quickly."
The help will bring more tankers into the area even faster. Cuomo said that he signed an executive order effectively waiving the mandatory registration process and tax that tankers must pay before offloading gasoline.
“I don’t like to waive the tax. I don’t want to lose the money,” Cuomo said. “But I do want to accelerate the flow of gasoline.”
New York is also getting help from President Barack Obama, who ordered the Defense Logistics Agency Friday to buy up to 12 million gallons of unleaded gas and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for the areas most affected by the storm, officials announced. Trucks will carry the gasoline to New York, New Jersey and other areas.
The gas shortage came about because Hurricane Sandy tossed heaps of debris into New York Harbor, prompting Coast Guard officials to deem to area unsafe for passage, Cuomo said.
The harbor has since been cleared and at least partially opened, which should stem the shortage of gasoline soon, he added.
In Hell's Kitchen, however, relief couldn't seem to come fast enough to New Yorkers who had traveled from as far away as Staten Island to refuel, only to find that the stations were either out of gas or were behind lines that stretched as long as 10 blocks by early Friday afternoon.
"I've been waiting for three hours. I'm about to quit my job," said yellow cab driver Ivan Paula. "Frustrating, that's the word."
Paula waited in line at the Hess Station at Wes 45th Street and 10th Avenue with other disgruntled New Yorkers. The line stretched all the way back to West 34th Street, but he said it was the best option he found.
"I've tried the whole city," he added. "There's a couple others, but the line is worse."
Cab driver Junior James also said that gas wasn't being made available quickly enough.
"They're telling me I probably won't get gas today. I can make it another couple of hours, but not the whole day," said James, 60. "I can't get to work if I can't get no gas. My business suffers."
East Harlem resident Mosad Elleboudy, 56, agreed that it was the worst shortage he had seen.
"I can't believe it," Elleboudy said. "I've been in this country for 28 years and never seen anything like it."