Nomads in Queens endure life on the line as they forage for gas

 

New York

Josiah Rosa is a 21st-century nomad, following Twitter updates and text messages in search of one thing: gas.

Word of mouth brought the Long Island man to a line at Channi Singh's Gulf station on Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway in the New York City borough of Queens. After two hours of waiting he got the bad news. The well was dry.

"People decided to fill up two, three, four tanks at a time," Rosa said, holding a garbage bag with gas cans. "We have no light. I have a generator. We have kids in the house. We're traveling all over Queens, Brooklyn."

It is a scene being repeated throughout New York and New Jersey: Frustrated people, many living without, power, heat or running water, on the hunt for fuel. Their quest should become easier as the Port of New York reopens, allowing the liquid gold to start flowing and as gas stations that lost power reopened.

Singh, who was selling regular unleaded for $3.89 a gallon cash, $3.99 credit or debit at his Gulf Oil Corp. Ltd. station, the same price as before the storm, took delivery of 5,000 gallons at midnight. Singh tried to enforce limits on the amount of gas people bought and failed.

"No one listens," he shrugged. People are buying fuel and then selling it on the street at higher prices, he said.

Hurricane Sandy, the biggest Atlantic storm in history, caused at least 92 U.S. deaths and blacked out millions of homes and businesses. Six Northeast refineries with 1.17 million barrels a day of processing capacity shut or operated at reduced rates because of the storm, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

In front of the Gulf station, police officers from the 107th precinct were keeping order. One man who tried to fill up five gas cans was detained.

Drivers waiting their turn snaked around the corner to the Grand Central Parkway. Intersections were blocked. Horns blared. Rumors flew that people were trying to sell gas for $100 a gallon.

Alan Curtis, 55, whose job is to ferry drug addicts to treatment programs around the five boroughs, was trying to keep his cool after sitting in his minivan for 90 minutes. "Look at my needle! Just look at my needle!"

It was on E.

"I'm too old to be stressed out like that, because it don't help," he said. "I don't want to have a heart attack here."

Not everyone in line was in desperate need. Tyrone Cohen, a 15-year-old from Flushing who plays high school basketball, said he needed to get to a game.

A woman's voice rang out from the line of people holding gas cans

"I think we're gonna make it. I think we're going to make it."

A red flashing light behind the cash register dashed her hope, signaling that there was no more gas. The nomads moved on.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Voices
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas