David Rosario and a co-worker, outfitted in fluorescent safety vests, were making like traffic cops Wednesday instead of gas station attendants at a Hess on Route 110 across from Farmingdale State College.
They were busy directing a steady stream of cars that at times blocked traffic in the right northbound lane of Route 110, causing sharp words among drivers as they jockeyed for position -- a situation that emerged at several other gas stations across the Island.
"It's crazy, but we got it under control," Rosario called out over his shoulder as he directed vehicles.
Gas prices several cents lower than competitors -- $3.87 for regular, $4.09 for mid-grade and $4.29 for premium -- and the scarcity of operating gas stations converged to create the traffic jam around 4:30 p.m. It had been that way throughout the day, said Liz Palaric, the senior sales clerk.
Joe Schiliro of Massapequa was among about a dozen drivers waiting in line, as a half-dozen other motorists filled their tanks ahead of him. "It's the closest I can get to gas," Schiliro said. He said stations closer to his home weren't operating.
"There's no gas coming into the port of Long Island," he said.
He noted some stations don't have power and others do but are hampered by the short supply. He said the Coast Guard has kept ships from the harbor.
Meanwhile, people like Robert Crisdell of Lindenhurst cope. He was not only filling up his Kia Soul at the Hess station in Farmingdale, he was pumping gas into two canisters to use in generators at his home, which was without electricity. "The 7 gallons will last almost two days," he said.
About 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, some 25 cars snaked in a line on the shoulder of Forest Avenue in Locust Valley, waiting for fuel at USA Gas.
Owner Victor Sebat, 52, of New Hyde Park, said he had 500 gallons of "super" left and expected that to run out soon. He had been running the station on generator power since Tuesday.
Tempers flared at a few stations.
About 1 p.m., a Valero in Farmingdale had a 50-car line.
Nickie Anderson, 31, got to a pump after waiting 90 minutes. She said drivers tried to jump the line. "It's terrible. I've never seen anything like this in my life."
And at a Hess in Great Neck on Northern Boulevard, Cheryl Ross of Great Neck left her vehicle to reprimand a driver who cut the line. "Where are your manners?" she said. "Not polite."
Afterward, she explained, "We're all stressed out. We're all waiting."
With Beth Holland, Scott Eidler,
Emily C. Dooley, Nelson Olivieri
and Tania Lopez