At midnight on Saturday morning, gas rationing on Long Island came to a halt, ending a weeks’ worth of mile or longer gas lines in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which had crippled supply lines to the region amid increased demand from the public that resulted in people standing in the cold with red cans for only a few gallons.
With the gas lines ending almost immediately after rationing began, many wondered why the government had not acted sooner.
“It should have been done in the beginning,” New Hyde Park resident Robert Stevens said as he filled up both of his cars at the at the Shell gas station at New Hyde Park Road and Jericho Turnpike.
“Dramatically, substantially the lines changed within a couple days. I filled up beforehand and didn’t go to a lot of places. I did this in the 70’s, I don’t want to do this again.”
The crisis for fellow customer Charlie Debano wasn’t as much of an issue.
“Not much of a problem,” he said. “One time filling up and the cars were full. I waited maybe 15, 20 minutes.”
Still he was presently filling up two red tanks for his snowblower following the recent Nor’Ester, feeling it reasonable to be prepared and cautious in case anything happened.
Not everyone made it through with such relative ease.
“Pretty much no more lines,” said Joseph, another patron at Shell, who declined to give his last name. “I waited almost 4 hours last weekend. This weekend things were fine.”
Still, other issues arise, most notably reports of price gouging, something the rationing was meant to prevent. New Jersey issued rationing prior to New York’s regulation and saw their situation improve. Customers however all felt the shortage differently.
“I was wondering if people were hoarding gas,” Stevens said as with panicky residents uncertain when they could fill up next they would get gas when they could.
At Shell the price was left unchanged and with their computers down, they had no way to adjust for the fluctuating market.
“If you change it and it goes up you’ll lose your customers,” station manager Rajni Palakula said of the price. “We didn’t change it due to the storm.”
Shannon Brown, one of the many residents who hadn’t gotten the notice that rationing was being lifted, took a proactive approach during the crisis.
“I teach in Queens so I carpooled,” she said. “If (the rationing) started earlier it wouldn’t have been such a problem. I didn’t even realize it was over.”