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Fuel-starved Queens residents hoarded gasoline this week, exacerbating the city’s petroleum shortage and ensuring long lines continued at the pump.
“The general sense is it’s getting somewhat better. It’s not getting better fast enough, but it has been getting better,,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Tuesday news conference. “What is compounding the problem is the quote unquote panic buying.”
Queens residents waited in line for days for a chance to get at some of the precious fuel. Lines stretched for blocks. Some residents slept in their cars to try and get first crack at the pumps. Others fought each other. One man even pulled a gun on fellow motorists, according to the Queens district attorney.
Cuomo urged New Yorkers to only buy as much gas as they needed, adding that the supply chain that was disrupted by the storm was being restored with extra provisions to get fuel to the city quickly, including waiving certain fees that allowed out-of-state trucks to deliver fuel to New York. But the city was importing more gas than would normally be needed because of people flocking to stations around the city.
Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a pipeline bringing gas to the city had been reopened and that ships were dropping off petrol to the city’s ports.
But that was little comfort for Queens residents who were spending days trying to juice up their cars.
“I was on line Saturday for nine hours and never got gas,” said Whitestone resident Andrea Brancati, who waited in a line near the corner of Willets Point and Francis Lewis boulevards.
But even Brancati said she did not have it the worst. A man also in line had slept in his car in order to get the fuel.
Others were not so patient.
One Queens man tried to cut in line by pulling a gun, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.
Between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. last Thursday, Sean Bailey, 35, of 111-14 204th St. in St. Albans, pulled his 2010 BMW ahead of another car waiting in line for gas at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard and 43rd Street.
When the motorist behind him complained, Bailey allegedly pointed a handgun at him and said, “If you don’t pull back, you’re not getting gas tonight,” according to the DA.
Bailey was subsequently cuffed and faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, which could bring up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.
Other residents were the victims of gas siphoning.
Rosetta Ackerman parked her car outside her Beechhurst home one evening last week with a full tank. The next morning she did not even have enough gas to get to a station.
“It’s totally crazy,” she said. “I’m furious.”
Some stations around Whitestone jacked up their prices.
A Gulf station on 14th Avenue in College Point was charging $4.29 for a gallon of regular Sunday, the same price as a Delta station near Clintonville Street and 10th Avenue.
But down the street, an Exxon Mobil station near the Cross Island Parkway was charging $3.79 for a gallon of regular.
State law prohibits price gouging for essential items in the event that normal distribution is disrupted, though the law is not specific, indicating that businesses who sell a good for an “unconscionably excessive price” could face legal action.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office was looking into numerous complaints of gouging.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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