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November 2, 2012

Gas stations scramble in Sandy's aftermath

NEW YORK (AP) — There's plenty of gasoline in the Northeast — just not at gas stations.

In parts of New York and New Jersey, drivers lined up Thursday for hours at gas stations that were struggling to stay supplied. The power outages and flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy have forced many gas stations to close and disrupted the flow of fuel from refineries to those stations that are open.

At the same time, millions of gallons of gasoline are sitting at the ready in storage tanks, pipelines and tankers that can't unload their cargoes.

"It's like a stopped up drain," said Tom Kloza, Chief Oil Analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

For people staying home or trying to restart a business, the scene wasn't much brighter: Millions were in the dark and many will remain so for days. As of Thursday, 4.5 million homes were without power, down from a peak of 8.5 million. The New Jersey utility Public Service Electric & Gas said it will restore power to most people in 7 to 10 days. Consolidated Edison, which serves New York City and Westchester County, said most customers will have power by Nov. 11, but some might have to wait an additional week or longer.

Superstorm Sandy found a host of ways to cripple the region's energy infrastructure. Its winds knocked down power lines and its floods swamped electrical substations that send power to entire neighborhoods. It also mangled ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines. Without power, fuel terminals can't pump gasoline onto tanker trucks, and gas stations can't pump fuel into customers' cars.

The Energy Department reported Thursday that 13 of the region's 33 fuel terminals were closed. Sections of two major pipelines that serve the area — the Colonial Pipeline and the Buckeye Pipeline — were also closed.

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Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

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