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Relief on the way for motorists

Published On: Nov 02 2012 05:36:12 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 03 2012 01:18:03 PM CDT

Power outages and disrupted deliveries have made gasoline a precious commodity in New York and New Jersey.  Some drivers are waiting in mile-long lines for hours to fill up.   

And now those long lines are beginning to form in our area, as the quest to find fuel sends drivers into Pennsylvania.  At the PA border with Warren County, New Jersey there are traffic jams at the pumps.  Enormous lines of folks with out-of-state tags wait to fill up.

"I figured the further West the better," said Jim Clarke.

"I came all the way from the New Brunswick area," explained Manny Rosales.

Workers were out directing folks to the nearest pump as cars inch along.  Motorists are opting to drive across state lines rather than wait in enormous traffic jams at gas stations closer to home.

"My wife's been waiting for about an hour and a half while we're getting gas here," shared Peter Hughes.  "So the line is a lot shorter right here then it is there."

"It's worth the hour drive instead of waiting an hour at all the other gas stations in Middlesex County and where I come from," said Rosales.

AAA estimates 60% of gas stations in New Jersey are shut down.  Motorists struggling to find stations with power and fuel and coming farher into the Commonwealth.  Cars were qeued up to gas-up in Bethlehem off 78.  Customers topped off their tanks or lined up gas cans to fill.

"We have a pharmacy in Far Hills, NJ and we gotta try and fill emergency prescriptions for people," explained Ira Katz.

Many are now treating the commodity like liquid gold.  Hoping to make it up to the pumps before the station runs out of gas.

"Every gas station that I went to was either closed or there was like 100 cars on line," shared Ben Wright.  "So I just barely made it, I mean the needle's already passed 'E'."

As supplies run low there's a fear gas shortages could spread into Pennsylvania.

"What happened is the terminals from New Jersey that shut down, those customers are forced to come to PA to pull product," said President of Fegley Oil Company Donald Fegley.

There's plenty of gasoline in the Northeast, just not at the gas stations.  The outages and flooding caused by the storm have disrupted the flow of fuel from refineries to the pumps, and the pipelines need more product.

"With all these additional customers coming in from the other states it emptied them like that, just like that," explained Fegley.  "So now the pipelines are only so big and they can only refill them so quickly."

But experts say there's no reason to panic.  Oil companies and government officials scrambled to restore fuel deliveries Friday.  Tankers are heading out and terminals are coming back online. 

"I don't think we're going to have a problem in the long term," said Fegley.  "It's just a short term crunch because the terminals weren't really geared up for it."

Officials in New York and New Jersey are doing all they can to get gas to customers quickly. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order waiving a requirement that fuel tankers register and pay tax before unloading.  While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took action to do odd-even rationing for gas purchased in 12 counties including Hunterdon and Warren.