Fuel, power shortage hamper post-Sandy recovery efforts
New York: Severe fuel shortages and problems in restoring power to over three million homes are hampering efforts to restore normality to parts of New York and New Jersey wrecked by superstorm Sandy.
Fights broke out at some petrol stations in New York and New Jersey, and power suppliers warned some areas might not have electricity until November 11.
"I`ve been pumping gas for 36 hours; I pumped 17,000 gallons," said Abhishek Soni, the Indian-American owner of an Exxon gas station in Montclair, where disputes in the line on Wednesday night had become so heated that Soni called the police and turned off the pumps for 45 minutes to restore calm.
"My nose, my mouth is bleeding from the fumes. The fighting just makes it worse," Soni was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
Anger is also rising in New York`s Staten Island, with some residents saying they had been forgotten by authorities.
Donna Solli rode out the storm in her Staten Island home because she has an elderly dog. She told visiting officials she had not had much to eat since the storm hit on Monday.
"One slice of pizza in 48 hours," she said. "We`re going to die ... We`re going to freeze. We got 90-year-old people. You don`t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on this corner now," Solli was quoted as saying by CNN.
At least 92 deaths in the US have now been blamed on Sandy, which hit the densely-populated US East Coast on Monday. New York state, the worst-hit, had 48 deaths, including 41 in New York City, authorities said.
The cost of the storm, one of the worst to hit the United States in decades, is now put at about USD 50 billion.
Residents in areas affected by the storm continued to face problems of transportation, lack of electricity and a dearth of fuel.
At many petrol stations there have been long lines of cars and of people carrying jerry cans.
There were also reports of sharp price increases by some suppliers. Many petrol stations in New Jersey and in New York City remained closed, confounding the problems faced by motorists.
In areas where entire neighbourhoods remain dark, utilities worked struggled to restore services to homes. New York City had nearly 500,000 customers without power, including 220,000 in Manhattan.
Power officials say they are hopeful of restoring electricity to all of Manhattan and more areas on Brooklyn by tomorrow, with more underground lines opening.
Commuters on trains in New York were allowed to travel free today while a ban on cars with fewer than three people inside will stay in place in Manhattan.
But Consolidated Edison, the power company serving New York, warned that some areas of the city would be blacked out until November 11.
Almost 45 per cent of customers in New Jersey and some 15 per cent in New York State remain without electricity, media reports said.
Anger is rising there at the delay in bringing aid, with litter piling up and residents picking through the debris of storm-ravaged homes.
Senator Chuck Schumer from New York, who toured some of the worst-hit areas in Staten Island said the conditions were grim.
"This is the worst thing I`ve ever seen, and it`s killing me what these people have to go through," the Democratic senator said. "We`ll get whatever federal help we can, that`s for sure."
A senior official said a convoy of 10 Red Cross trucks filled with food, water and medicine arrived Thursday evening in Staten Island.
Meanwhile, authorities scrambled to restore basic services, including transportation.
Amtrak said modified train service will resume today between Boston and Washington via New York City. In New York City, limited subway service resumed yesterday.
Neighbouring New Jersey, which suffered 12 deaths linked to the storm, plans to restore limited rail service today.
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