(NEW YORK) — Relief is in sight for increasingly angry victims of Sandy’s rampage as a flotilla of ships and barges began unloading gasoline in an effort to reduce long lines of gas-desperate motorists.
“The issue of gasoline has created concern and anxiety and practical problems all throughout the region,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Friday. “People can’t get gas. It’s slowed down the delivery of service, it’s increased the stress level all across the region.”
Some gas stations have fuel in the ground, but are unable to pump it without power. Others have power but have no gas due to shortages and difficulties in transporting the fuel.
At the gas stations that do have power, police have been keeping order at hours-long lines.
Cuomo said that debris in New York’s harbor, much of ship containers blown into the water and lurking below the surface, posed a threat to navigation and caused the U.S. Coast Guard to close the ports until they were confident the vessels could come through without being in danger.
This created a backlog of vessels that were trying to get into the harbor, the governor said. Part of the harbor was re-opened on Thursday.
In addition, Sandy’s flooding damaged some pumping equipment used to move the gas.
“We understand why there was a shortage,” Cuomo said. “The harbor is now open. There should be a real change in conditions and people should see it quickly.”
An executive order waiving the registration and tax requirements for fuel tankers has been approved, which should expedite the process. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Daniel Abel mentioned the possibility of “creative alternatives,” like possibly using hoses to unload fuel directly from barges to trucks, if it is safe.
Cuomo also announced that power was expected to be restored to lower Manhattan shortly and that the state of New York has pledged $100 million to a fund dedicated to Sandy victims and home repairs.
The governor’s announcements produced a glimmer of hope to about 3.6 million people spending a fourth day without power. They woke up Friday in cold, dark homes as temperatures are forecast to drop into the 30s with a possible Nor’easter on the way.
The death toll from Sandy’s rampage topped 90, according to reports.
But some parts of the area hammered by Sandy feel they have been left behind in the rush to restore power to Manhattan. Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power, many are homeless, and at least 19 people died there because of the storm.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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