Gas Business Plummets After Sandy
By NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Drivers lined up on Clintonville Street in Whitestone waiting for gas at the Exxon station days after the storm. Despite the long lines, many gas station owners say business has been down in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Tribune Photo by Ross Barkan
As many New Yorkers spent the last week waiting on gas lines that extended for blocks, it might be difficult to imagine that station businesses encountered a severe profit loss amidst the gas crisis. But several owners reveal that the crisis was detrimental, with profits down by as much as 75 percent in some areas.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of gas stations were left without power, inhibiting them from selling gas. For the lucky gas stations which had power, Sandy’s flooding slowed down deliveries. In the days following the storm, gas station terminals in New York and New Jersey were either shut down or operating at reduced speeds. Other factors, like the closure of major routes and tunnels and last Wednesday’s nor’easter, also hindered deliveries.
“We are down by 60 percent. Our deliveries are down, there is no supply” said Louie Romano, manager at Exxon, located at 150-65 Cross Island Pkwy. in Whitestone. “We are losing business. We are selling 10,000 gallons less than usual. Everything has slowed down – the [car] wash, the shop. No one wants to use gas to get around.”
Romano noted that prior to the storm, his station was receiving as many as three deliveries a day. After the storm, the Exxon didn’t receive a delivery until five or six days later.
“Our terminals didn’t get power back until Saturday or Sunday,” he said.
Even after his terminal had regained power, Romano said that the station was receiving far fewer deliveries – approximately one a day.
But other gas station owners, like Xanthippi Moshopoulus of Exxon, located at 59-91 Maurice Ave. in Maspeth, said one delivery per day was a long shot.
“It’s affected us a lot because we don’t get deliveries every day. We’ve been getting them every two-three days. From Saturday, we just got our first delivery this [Tuesday] morning. We went all those days without a delivery,” Moshopoulus said.
Moshopoulus echoed similar sentiments as Romano, claiming her business had also plummeted by 60 percent in the weeks following Sandy.
Her business, which also encompasses a convenience store, a Dunkin’ Donuts and a car wash, also suffered dramatically.
“It’s come down too because the people can’t get to the gas pumps,” she said. “The wait to get into the station? Forget about it. People were waiting two miles away.”
Jarro Palillo, an employee at the BP station located on 21-17 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City, explained that his station suffered a 75 percent profit loss. On average, the station was getting deliveries twice a day, but in the week following the storm, the station had received only three deliveries.
Similarly, Robert Dopieho, manager at Queens Village Diesel, located at 218-02 Hillside Ave. in Queens Village, said business had slowed down significantly. Although Queens Village Diesel only dispenses diesel fuel, Dopieho said business still went down by 30 percent because he ran out of diesel fuel for five days in the week after the storm.
To reduce waiting time at gas stations, Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented a rationing system – an odd-even system for fueling based on license plate numbers. While parts of Queens are still experiencing long waits for gas, in a press conference held Monday, Bloomberg said that although the rationing is still in place, things are looking up.
“It’s hard to measure, it looks like there are a handful more gas stations open than yesterday and the day before. Anecdotal evidence is that lines are shorter and hopefully that’s true,” he said. “It’s also true that if people think lines are going to be shorter then they’re not going to try to fill up when they’re down a quarter of a tank. So it’s one of these self-correcting things. So in time, these distribution facilities that haven’t been functioning will come back on line.”
Multiple Queens gas station owners shared a similar consensus, estimating the gas crisis should be over within the next two weeks.
Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.