Jul 30, 2014
Partly Cloudy

NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps

Across Brooklyn and Queens, many stations are unable to fill tanks due to Sandy. So far, Hess has the most reliable supply.

NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps NYC Drivers Despair Over Lack of Gas at Pumps

With the city's subway system stunted, many in the outer boroughs attempted to circumvent the MTA on Thursday by driving or taking a car service to destinations instead.

But as reports of gas outages trickled over the Internet, it appears that Brooklyn and Queens may soon be running on empty.

"There isn't gas anywhere. We're giving up," said Kai MacMahon, a Windsor Terrace resident who had rented a Zipcar to take a stranded friend to Newark Airport.

When the rental was picked up from its drop-off location, it was discovered to only have roughly 14 miles left in the tank. But the trip would take more than 30, so the friends began hitting local stations to fill up.

"We stopped at Island Pumper, Shell, BP," MacMahon said of the failed mission. "There was a Hess with gas on 18th Avenue, but it was like a war zone: police in the street, no cars allowed in. You could only walk up with a gas can—and everyone was sold out of cans."

Similar scenes were described over in Ditmas Park, where Hess also appeared to be the only station with gas. 

"At noon today, a Hess gas station near Ditmas Avenue had a massive lineup of cars—horrible traffic over there—and a long line of people were waiting with portable tanks," wrote one woman on the Flatbush Family Forum online.

Calls to other gas chains in Brooklyn were either unanswered or came up dry. But the Hess on Union Street and 4th Avenue in Gowanus and the location on Bedford Avenue at Park Avenue in Bed-Stuy were both able to sell to customers this morning.

The right-hand lane down Bedford Avenue, from Gates to Park Avenue, was a parking lot by the afternoon, as cars waited in line to fill their tank.

In fact, as of 2:30 p.m., Hess had a little more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline left where all but one of the eight pumps were still working, according to Akin, the station manager.

One customer, Roemello, drove all the way from Crown Heights to the Hess on Bedford. He said he was frustrated. He had wasted all of his gas waiting in line for one and a half hours only to get up to the pump and learn that they were no longer accepting credit cards.

This meant that he would have to try to fill his tank with the little bit of cash he had left on him.

“This is very discouraging and very frustrating,” said Roemello. “I’d heard a rumor that the Hess on Bedford Avenue still had gas, so I jumped in the car and drove right over. But now this…”

The scene was chaos. Drivers, along with a few friendly passersby, literally were pushing their cars into the station on foot, as one-by-one some began to run out of gas while they waited on line. 

Others ditched the line, parked their cars on a side street and walk up to the station with their portable gas cans where two pumps at Hess were designated for customers who were filling up on foot.

But even that effort became somewhat awkward: As pumps were not accepting credit cards, it was an uncoordinated dance of trying to pay in advance while not lose your place in line.

At least a dozen police officers from the 79th Precinct were on hand to help direct traffic at the pumps and maintain crowd control.

“Listen, you need to get more people behind the counter there,” 79th Pct. Deputy Inspector Micheal Lipetri told Akin. “We’re trying to help you right now, but you’ve got work with us here.”

Akin, who looked brow-beaten, said, “I’ve been calling and calling to try to get someone in to help me, but I can’t get anyone in to work today.”

An attendant at the BP on Kent Avenue in Fort Greene had no gas to offer and was unable to offer answers for those trying to schedule another pickup at his lot.

"Gasoline. Yeah, it's a problem," he said. "Don't have a timeframe for when we'll be able to get it."

The Sunoco on Atlantic and Grand Avenues ran out of gas on Wednesday at around 9 p.m.

“We have absolutely no gas, not a drop,” said Marwan Alan, the gas station attendant, after he taped handmade signs that read “No Gas” on his pumps on Thursday.

Due to damage from Hurricane Sandy their gas terminal on Long Island isn’t making deliveries throughout the five boroughs, he said.

“Even if they could deliver gas, they don’t have any either,” Alan said, explaining that all the other gas stations on Atlantic he knows of are also all out of the precious liquid. “We need to fill our pumps every 24 hours or else we run out and it’s been long past that time. We hope to get some on Saturday or Sunday, but to be honest we just don’t know when, or how, we’ll get more.”

A man standing with his son and wife while a mechanic gave his car a tuneup said that he only had a quarter tank left and needed to get back to central New Jersey, a three-hour ride that takes a full tank.

“I am looking for gas now. If we don’t get it, I don’t know how we’ll get back home,” said Dwight Wilson, who was laughing at his own situation. “I heard there is gas on Cooper and Cypress avenues, but there’s a two-hour wait.”

The situation was the same in Queens: A Getty gas station attendant on Northern Boulevard in Bayside told reporters they had no gas because a delivery hasn't been made, due to the storm.

Back in Brooklyn, a man who was parked on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope said he went to a gas station in Clinton Hill and there was a line for more than an hour.

“Fights are breaking out over gasoline," said Steve Rodriguez. "People are beating each other up over who was on line first."

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