Barack Obama administration has bought up 22 million gallons of gas to help get residents of some of the areas worst affected by Hurricane Sandy back on the road.
The administration has purchased up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel that will be distributed in New York and New Jersey to supplement private sector efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Friday that President Barack Obama had directed the Defense Logistics Agency to handle the purchase of the fuel.
The gas will be transported by tanker trucks and distributed throughout the two states and other communities impacted by the storm.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the fuel purchase is part of efforts by governments, private organizations and others to help the region recover from Superstorm Sandy, which left residents queuing at gas stations for a diminishing supply of fuel.
This purchase is in addition to an emergency diesel fuel loan from the Energy Department’s Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
Large parts of the tri-state area were left without power for five days after the storm struck and fuel shortages have become even more dire, prompting some opportunist convenience store owners to charge as much as $6 a gallon.
Becoming ever more desperate for fuel, residents have been bickering over their place in the queue at gas stations and even brandishing firearms to get what they need.
Along the New Jersey turnpike cars have lined up for miles in the hope of getting fuel, but gas stations in many outer-borough areas are sealed off with yellow tape.
Meanwhile, in the New York borough of Queens, customers are hanging on every rumor – will the next delivery arrive in two hours? Or five hours? Or six?
In one extreme case, motorist Sean Bailey was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.