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Gas lines, ill-tempered drivers plague Long Island after Sandy

November 01, 2012|By Brian Bennett
  • People wait in line for more than two hours for gasoline as New York continues to recover from super storm Sandy.
People wait in line for more than two hours for gasoline as New York continues… (Spencer Platt / Getty Images )

WANTAGH, N.Y .-- "Everybody is in panic mode," said Venus Bennett, 37, standing on her front lawn in Wantagh and waiting for her husband to come back with a full gas tank.

The line at Bennett's neighborhood gas station was half a mile. Drivers honked and gestured at latecomers trying to cut in. The goodwill that had been generated in the first couple of days after Hurricane Sandy seems to be petering out, said Bennett, a stay-at-home mom.

"A few fights almost broke out," she said, watching the line of cars snake down her block. "This is scary." 

Bennett sent her husband, Chris, for gas when the power came on and she saw a TV newscast about a gas shortage on Long Island. Her husband's grandmother died Wednesday, and Bennett wanted to be sure they had enough gas to drive to the funeral on Saturday.

INTERACTIVE: Before and after Hurricane Sandy

Mike Ardezzone, 53, was sitting in his car farther down the line, the needle on his gas gauge inching down. He needed to fill up to make the 40-mile commute into John F. Kennedy International Airport for a 4 a.m. shift loading bags onto airplanes.

He had driven around for an hour looking for a station, any station, that was pumping gas.  He passed several that would sell only three gallons at a time; people were lined up 10 deep to fill canisters to fuel their generators.

"This is unreal," he said.  He hadn't waited in a gas line like this since the 1970s, when he was 21 and drove a 1973 metallic-blue Buick Riviera with a bullet hole in the window. He remembers paying $900 for that car with money he saved from delivering newspapers.

"It is unbelievable what the storm did," he said.

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