Americas

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Fuel shortage sparks fights at pumps in wake of Sandy

Mark Hughes New York and James Orr New Jersey

Published 03/11/2012|05:00

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WIDESPREAD fuel shortages have caused chaos at petrol stations in New York and New Jersey, with police being called to break up fights at the pumps as the fallout from Superstorm Sandy continues.

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Mile-long queues and fighting between customers have been reported, with one man in New York arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on another motorist.

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York state, said he would suspend requirements on tankers docking in the New York Harbour, which had just reopened to oil vessels. One ship carrying two million gallons of gasoline had docked overnight in Newburgh, 60 miles north of New York City.

Some New Yorkers have resorted to raiding rubbish bins for food. Images filmed by NBC show residents of the Lower East Side, which has been without power since Monday, digging through a skip in search of edible waste.

The misery may be compounded by threats of a new storm that could hit the east coast of the US next week, just after the country goes to the polls on Tuesday.

Meteorologists said the storm, which won't be as severe as Sandy, is six days out and may divert before it is due to hit.

The fuel shortage in New York and New Jersey has led to huge queues of cars and people on foot attempting to fill jerry cans to fuel generators in the absence of electricity, leading to outbreaks of frustration.

In Queens, a man was arrested after he attempted to jump the queue at a petrol station and then allegedly pointed a pistol at another customer. Sean Bailey (35) faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said he hoped the transit situation would ease when the subway came into use again, expected to happen over the weekend. Abhishek Soni, the owner of an Exxon outlet in Montclair, told the ' New York Times' that disputes at his station became so bad that he called the police and turned off the pumps for 45 minutes to restore calm.

"I've been pumping gas for 36 hours; I pumped 17,000 gallons," he told the newspaper. "My nose, my mouth is bleeding from the fumes." New Jersey governor Chris Christie deployed state police troopers to storm-hit areas to prevent "potential looting".

New Jersey is also dealing with the emergence of an outbreak of carbon monoxide-related deaths after people were exposed to the gas while using petrol or diesel-driven generators to provide power.

Five people are understood to have died in such incidents since Monday. Exposure to carbon monoxide can occur unless the generators, which produce the gas, are properly ventilated.

"The problem we're having is that people go out and buy portable generators and have no idea what they're doing," said Dr Steven Marcus, director of New Jersey's poison control centre.

Atlantic City residents were preparing to return to their homes for the first time since a mandatory evacuation order a week ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

SEE ELECTION COUNTDOWN: PAGE 27

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