Residents dig through the debris left by Hurricane Sandy in
the Staten Island Borough of New York. REUTERS/Keith
Fuel supplies headed toward disaster zones in the US
Northeast today and a million customers regained electricity
ahead of a coming cold snap that threatened to add to the
misery of coastal communities devastated by superstorm Sandy.
The power restorations relit the skyline in lower Manhattan
for the first time in nearly a week and allowed 80 percent of
the New York City subway service to resume, but 2.5 million
homes and businesses still lacked power, down from 3.5
million on Friday.
The power outages combined with a heating oil shortage meant
some homes could go cold as wintry weather sets in.
Forecasters saw temperatures dipping to 3degC on Saturday
night with similar low temperatures next week.
"There's no heating oil around," said Vincent Savino, the
president of Statewide Oil and Heating, which usually
supplies some 2,000 buildings across New York City. "I don't
know how much fuel we have left: maybe a day or two."
The long, arduous recovery was taxing disaster victims and
first responders strained by a week of emergency services.
The post-storm chaos also threatened to jumble Tuesday's
election with President Barack Obama and Republican
challenger Mitt Romney locked in a tight race.
The storm's death toll rose to at least 110 with nine more
deaths reported in New Jersey on Saturday, raising the total
in that state to 22. New York revised its total down by one
Sandy killed 69 in the Caribbean before turning north and
hammering the U.S. northeast coast on Monday with 130kmh
winds and a record surge of seawater that swallowed oceanside
communities in New Jersey and New York, and flooded streets
and subway tunnels in New York City.
"It's just breathtaking," said New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie, who ordered rationing that allows only half of all
cars to buy gasoline each day. "I was there (at the Jersey
Shore) yesterday and I will tell you, it looked like we had
been bombed. There are homes in Bay Head on the beach that
had been driven by the storm surge into the houses across the
Tight gasoline supplies have tested the patience of drivers -
fist fights have broken out in mile-long lines of cars - but
fuel was making its way to terminals after the U.S. Coast
Guard reopened New York Harbor to tanker traffic on Friday.
Alleviating one of the country's worst fuel chain disruptions
since the energy shortage in the 1970s, some 8 million
gallons of gasoline and other petroleum products have been
delivered since Friday and another 28 million gallons was to
be delivered this weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
told a news conference.
Cuomo also announced the Defense Department would set up five
mobile gas stations in the metropolitan area, providing
people with up to 10 gallons of free gas.
At least 1,000 drivers queued up at the Freeport Armory in
Long Island, only to be told the gasoline would not arrive
for at least eight hours more, one driver said.
"There's just so many people getting very frustrated. People
don't know what to do," said Lauren Popkoff, 49, a history
teacher who had been in line for four hours.