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Frustration in LI's post-Sandy gas lines

A long line forms at the USA gas

A long line forms at the USA gas station on Route 112 in Medford. (Nov. 2, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

The region descended into gasoline-starved desperation Saturday -- a post-Sandy landscape marked by miles-long lines at the gas stations that were open, anxious motorists, and confusion even at makeshift depots where the governor had announced fuel would be free.

At the few gas stations that did have enough power and fuel to be open for business, short tempers flared.

"That's not the end of the line," one man in line at Bob's Tire & Auto Service in Commack barked out his window at a driver he thought was trying to cut -- peppering his anger with obscenities.

"Just relax," she retorted, explaining that she was just trying to make a turn, not get gas.

Standing at the end of that line, Matt Jordan, 32, of Bethpage, asked someone in a car: "If I give you $30, will you fill up my gas can for me?"

Jordan's car had been running on empty for 25 miles and he didn't know how long the vehicle would be able to keep going.

The driver declined -- for fear of getting in trouble.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Saturday there would be free government-provided gas at five locations -- four in the city and one on Long Island. He said emergency responders would get first priority, but that the public would be able to avail themselves, too.

At the Freeport Armory in Roosevelt, civilians who heard the governor's information waited for hours before Nassau police shooed them away with the bad news that there would be no gas dispensed there.

"I've been searching for gas since 6 a.m.," said a dejected Alexander Ikhehedu, 16, of Roosevelt. "I'm going home with no gas when I could have kept looking."

At Hess Express on Route 110 in Farmingdale, Jim Greening had been waiting nearly six hours.

Greening said he "lost everything" at his Amity Harbor home.

But what he's most worried about, he says, is the toll on his health. Greening, 57, suffers from emphysema, and he relies on an oxygen tank to breathe.

"I've been running out of oxygen and gas," he said. "Today's the worst, I've been pretty lucky the past few days."

The generator, he says, empties quickly.

"It doesn't last the night," he said. Friends take turns getting gas. Saturday was his.

Back in Commack, Rocco LoRusso, 23, and his mother, Eileen LoRusso, 53, both of Brentwood, had been up since 3 a.m. Saturday doing what they called "gas hunting."

They hit 50 gas stations along Veterans Memorial Highway, Sunrise Highway, Route 111 -- to name a few -- and they found stations either with no gas or with lines that were too long.

Finally, down to half a tank, mother and son came upon Bob's Tire & Auto Service. After waiting on line for an hour and a half, they gassed up.

"The world is going crazy right now," he said.

With Scott Eidler, Lauren R. Harrison and Igor Kossov

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