As gas lines ease, Cuomo holds off on rationing

The Mobile station on Route 59 in Nanuet The Mobile station on Route 59 in Nanuet is out of gas. (Nov. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

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A gas shortage that verged on panic Friday appeared to be easing somewhat in the Hudson Valley on Monday as some commuters faced shorter lines and Gov. Andrew Cuomo hinted at further action to curtail panic if necessary.

Cuomo said at an afternoon news conference that there have been "a lot of variables" involved in the gas panic, citing both hoarding and a lack of power at some stations.

"Half the gas stations have no power, and we're trying to get them generators," the governor said. "They have the gas in the tanks, but they can't get it out."

To rectify the hoarding situation, Cuomo said the state could issue an order limiting the amount of gas customers can purchase or could allow motorists to get gas only on certain days, depending on whether their license plates end in odd or even numbers. New Jersey has adopted the latter approach.

"There are a number of options we can consider," the governor said. "We haven't had to execute them, but we could."

In Pleasantville, at the busy intersection of Pleasantville and Bedford roads, two of the three gas stations did not have any gas. Only Century Gas had any fuel, with drivers backed up onto Pleasantville Road since the station opened at 7 a.m.

But Nicole Geoghegan of Pleasantville said her wait Monday was just 15 minutes, compared with more than an hour late last week.

"I don't want to get stuck somewhere," the Board of Elections worker said as she topped off her tank with nearly five gallons. "When I saw they were open, I just came right here."

At Camp Smith in Cortlandt Manor on Sunday, Cuomo said the fuel issues were subsiding and urged New Yorkers not to panic and to minimize their use of fuel. Cuomo said fuel delivery was disrupted by closures of harbors, which are now open, and power outages at gas stations, which are gradually getting power restored. Cuomo did criticize power companies over the handling of the storm but said the situation seems to be easing.

"Every day has been getting better," Cuomo said.

Still, people were afraid of running out of gas.

"It's pure fear that's driving this," said Ron Goldstein, the owner of Century Gas. His station ran out of gas Friday afternoon after having hourlong lines.

He got a delivery Sunday night of 3,700 gallons, roughly what he would get under normal circumstances.

"They had to haul it all the way from Pennsylvania," he said. "There's no gas shortage. It was just a power shortage that slowed the deliveries."

That, he said, caused the biggest run on gas in his 30 years in the business.

He had sold 800 gallons in the first two hours of business Monday morning and figured at that rate his pumps would be dry by 3 p.m.

"I haven't even called to see when the next delivery is coming. I haven't had time. It's been so busy," he said.

A Gulf station on Route 202 in Yorktown that didn't have gas at 7 a.m. had cars at the pumps after receiving a delivery about 8:30 a.m. The same occurred at a Mobil station on Bryant Pond Road in Putnam Valley.

Charles Green of Manhattan, who is helping renovate a building in Peekskill, said he felt fortunate to find the Shell station on Route 202 in Yorktown not only had gas but had no lines.

"I'm pretty much shocked," he said as he filled up his car, with its gas needle on empty when he pulled in about 8 a.m. "I feel like I got lucky."

He said he gambled on filling up in Westchester County after seeing how long the lines were in Manhattan when he left for work before 7 a.m.

"It was crazy there," he said. "I didn't even attempt it."

Police in Orangetown and Port Chester reported long lines and traffic jams Saturday and Sunday because of fuel demand. Four people reportedly were arrested in Yonkers on charges of disorderly conduct related to filling up at gas stations, police told News12.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said resolving the fuel shortages could take days.

On Thursday, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano imposed a gas ration of 10 gallons per day. Rockland County also has imposed a 10-gallon limit.

Cuomo on Sunday urged New Yorkers not to fill up unless it is necessary.

"Now is not the time to panic," the governor said. "Everyone wanting to have a full tank is making the situation worse."

Under different circumstances, Geoghegan said she would not have even considered getting gas Monday, with her tank three-quarters' full when she left home.

But she knows tomorrow she'll be driving from polling place to polling place in Westchester County, logging a lot of miles.

"Just that fear of running out," she said, adding she's trying to shorten trips and get all errands done in a single outing to save gas.

In Orange County, a Washingtonville police officer was hit by a car waiting for gas at the Stewart's Shop on Sunday morning, leaving him with injuries to his arm, wrist and legs, in an incident that was still under police investigation Monday.

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