Gas pains! Fuel shortage leaves borough on edge

Gas pains! Fuel shortage leaves borough on edge
Photo by Paul Martinka

Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath has created a gas shortage for the ages that’s disrupting commuters and businesses throughout the borough, motorists say.
“It’s an enormous pain,” said Sven Wechsler, the owner of Sven Moving in Williamsburg, who scuttled half of his four-vehicle fleet because he can’t find enough gas to fill them all. “I was supposed to move somebody to Pittsburg, which I cancelled, and I stopped doing jobs that I can’t do in one of my diesel vehicles.”

Gas stations around the borough have been swamped with customers for days, with many of them running out of petrol in a matter of hours.

But the lines continue. More than three rows of cars were found swarming a Shell station at Chester Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway in Kensington on Wednesday. Yesterday, a line of cars outside a Hess station at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue T in Marine Park — a station that had just had power returned to it that morning — spanned more than eight blocks in two directions.
“Brooklyn’s never not had gas like this,” said a worker at the Sunoco on Coney Island Avenue in Gravesend that was drained dry on Friday.

Only 35 to 40 percent of gas stations had enough gas to operate, according to CNN. One, a Shell station on Third Avenue in Boerum Hill, posted a placard in its window with a hopeless message for professional drivers,

Photo by Paul Martinka

“Don’t know when the gas is coming,” read the sign over the cashier’s window.

Witnesses have reported waits up to four hours, causing tension to boil over into conflict at times.

In response, many gas stations now have police chaperones — Weschler claimed that one of his drivers reported seeing a gas tanker on the BQE with a police escort, a dystopian detail backed up by multiple accounts on Twitter and Instagram.

The Mad Max-like drama is due to a complex set of infrastructure factors, state officials say. A limited supply of gasoline was available in the borough due to the closure of some refineries and ports as Hurricane Sandy barreled toward us. That supply dried up quickly as the demand from consumers increased in the aftermath of the storm, officials said.

Gas lines were blocks long around the borough — for those who could find a station that still had gas.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.