Electricity returned Saturday morning to lower Manhattan’s shops, homes and streetlights, triggering yells of relief from residents who have endured days without power. The city’s subway system also lurched back to life as service between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn was restored.
“I said, ;Praise to God’ ” when the light went on, said the Rev. Grace May, a pastor at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church on Essex Street on the Lower East Side. Life in lower Manhattan had been like “an indoor camping trip,” he said.
For many residents, securing gasoline has become their most important task of the day. Lines of vehicles backed up a half-mile or longer, filling the ramps leading to service areas along the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Expressway.
Fewer than half of the gas stations in the region had fuel and the electricity to pump it, and each one that did attracted lines stretching for blocks. Many motorists spent hours creeping forward, only to see that the station had run out of gas just as they made it to the entrance.
“I have no power, I’m underwater and I have no gas,” said Cari Rigo, 62, an administrative law judge who spent more than eight hours waiting at three gas stations to fill her car after siphoning two gallons into it from her husband’s motorcycle. Each time, the station manager started waving motorists away when her turn had nearly to come. “My daughter who lives in California said I should come out. But I have no gas to get to the airport.”
Amid a handful of reports of arguments breaking out in gas lines, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ordered temporary rationing beginning at noon Saturday, with drivers with even-numbered license plates being allowed to fill up on even-numbered dates and odd-numbered cars on the other days. But several motorists said they hadn’t heard the news because they had no power at home, and gas station managers said they didn’t bother to look at the plates.
“I don’t have any time to check plates,” David Singh said as he pumped gas into a car at the Delta station he manages on McCarter Highway in Newark. He estimated that the 900 gallons he had left about 2:30 p.m. might last another hour. Then he would close the station.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced that temporary fuel trucks provided by the U.S. Defense Department would be placed at armories across New York City and Long Island to serve emergency vehicles as well as the public. Cuomo said that 8 million gallons of gas had been delivered by tankers and an additional 28 million would move into the city over coming days.