Gas rationing begins in New York City and Long Island as some power returns
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced gasoline rationing in the five boroughs, starting early Friday morning, along with Long Island. In the meantime, power crews are slowly getting electrical power restored.
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"It's unacceptable the longer it goes on because the longer it goes on, people's suffering is worse," he said.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm
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Cuomo appears to be all by himself among the New York area's big three politicians. Bloomberg defended the city's power company, Consolidated Edison, and said it has done a good job in recent years. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised the utilities, saying he expects all of his state to have power back by early Sunday.
The utilities have said they are dealing with damage unprecedented in its scope and are doing the best they can. And there is no denying the magnitude of what they have done: At the peak, more than 8.5 million homes and businesses across 21 states lost power during Sandy.
Early Friday, there were more than 220,000 outages left in the New York area, mostly on Long Island, and about 250,000 in New Jersey. Almost all Connecticut residents had lights again, down from 625,000 at the storm's height.
Still, some people have lived for days in the dark in temperatures near freezing.
"We lost power last week, just got it back for a day or two, and now we lost it again," said John Monticello, of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. "Every day it's the same now: turn on the gas burner for heat. Instant coffee. Use the iPad to find out what's going on in the rest of the world."
The mounting criticism of utility companies came as the Federal Emergency Management Agency started bringing mobile homes into the region and Cuomo said the storm could cost New York State alone $33 billion.
New Jersey did not have a damage estimate of its own, but others have put Sandy's overall toll at up to $50 billion, making it the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, behind Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans in 2005.
In New York City and Long Island, the gas rationing followed New Jersey's lead nearly a week ago in a move meant to deal with fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations.
Officials said something had to be done to ease long waits for fuel, which they say has caused panic-buying and hoarding. The system took effect at 5 a.m. Friday on Long Island and at 6 a.m. in New York City.
Gas is available to drivers with license-plate numbers ending in an odd number or a letter on Friday. On Saturday, drivers with license plates that end in even numbers or zero can fuel up.
Buses, taxes and limousines, commercial vehicles and emergency vehicles are exempt from the plan, as are people carrying portable gas cans. Vanity plates that don't have numbers are considered odd-numbered plates. Out-of-state drivers are also subject to the system.
Bloomberg said the shortages could last another couple of weeks.
IN PICTURES - Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm