Gas Shortage Worries Queens Drivers
By MEGAN MONTALVO
Queens residents line up to get gas at a BP gas station in Fresh Meadows.
Photo by Ira Cohen
While the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy were devastatingly far reaching, no one could have anticipated the impact it would have at the gas pump.
As the City experiences a fuel shortage, hundreds of residents have been lining up at gas stations throughout the Borough, causing some to be shut down within a matter of hours.
"I just want to be able to get to work," Jay Wilson of Woodside said as he stood in a line of disgruntled customers at a BP station in Jackson Heights on Saturday. "I've been waiting here since six in the morning and nothing has moved."
Ten hours later, Wilson was still in line patiently waiting, adding a frustrated sigh as he exclaimed, "this is just absolutely ridiculous."
What Wilson had been experiencing was just a small window into what so many were dealing with Citywide.
At a Sunoco gas station located at 49-01 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City, cars lined up for more than ten blocks Saturday evening, some wrapping around side streets.
A lack of police presence put uneasy customers into a hierarchy of first come, first served.
"People have been coming here to get gas so they can turn around and sell it at a higher price," said limo driver Paul Arbollita. "People are starting to get upset and survival of the fittest mode is kicking in. It's scary."
While strong words were exchanged between patrons at the Sunoco, a more serious incident was reported in Astoria last week.
On Thursday, Sean Bailey of St. Albans was arrested for allegedly threatening a man in line at a Mobil station on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 43rd Street.
Shortly after 2:30 a.m., Bailey allegedly maneuvered his white 2010 BMW to cut the line in front of an unidentified 29-year-old motorist and pulled out a 25-caliber Phoenix Raven pistol.
While Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) had been organizing a relief drive at his office and throughout various locations in Astoria, he noted that both he and his staff had also been affected by the fuel shortage.
"We had intended on driving to the Rockaways to give out donations, but we ran out of gas," Vallone said. "Fortunately, other residents in the neighborhood have donated their cars for delivery."
In Maspeth, lines spanned several blocks, blocking off home owners from their own driveways.
On Monday, Lenny Streski said he had been trying to enter his driveway on Hull Avenue in Maspeth when a woman in a gas line brandished a pipe at him.
"She told me 'you better not hit my car,'" Streski said. "I cannot believe how people are turning on each other, and what's worse is that if there is an accident on my street, there is no way for an ambulance to get through."
As residents scrambled to refuel, several local officials had been putting in calls to urge Con Ed to place more of an emphasis for recovery in Queens.
At the forefront of recovery efforts, State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said that due to several downed power lines, many stations have been unable to operate, leading to extreme congestion at the stations that are open for business.
"It's the electricity part that's creating the chaos," Peralta said. "A lot of gas stations do not have electricity and some storage facilities don't have electricity to move the gas to these stations."
After personally experiencing price gouging at a station in Jackson Heights, Peralta noted that residents should report any incidents of price gouging to 311. He also stressed that he will continue to push Con Ed for faster recovery efforts.
"Queens is still the borough with the most outages. It just feels like there is more emphasis on Manhattan," Peralta said. "I understand Manhattan is an economic engine, but a lot of people in Manhattan who lost power just lost power. In Queens, people lost electricity, their homes and so much more."
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or firstname.lastname@example.org