Lights in lower Manhattan; misery in outer regions

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Gas rationing went into effect at noon in 12 counties of northern New Jersey, where police enforced rules to allow only motorists with odd-numbered license plates to refuel. Those with even-numbered plates would get their turn Sunday.

Jessica Tisdale, of Totowa, waited in her Mercedes SUV for 40 minutes at a gas station in Jersey City, but didn’t quite understand the system and was ordered to pull away because of her even-numbered plate.

“Is it the number or the letter?” she asked around 12:10 p.m. “I don’t think it’s fair. I’ve been in the line since before noon. …There’s no clarity.” The officer who waved her out of line threw up his hands and shrugged.

At an Exxon station in Wall, N.J., Kathryn Davidson, who had an even-numbered plate, got gas anyway by beating the noon deadline.

“How are people supposed to know?” said Davidson, 53, who said it reminded her of the 1970s, when a similar plan was in place.

President Barack Obama visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an update on recovery efforts and said: “There’s nothing more important than us getting this right.”

He cited the need to restore power; pump out water, particularly from electric substations; ensure that basic needs are addressed; remove debris; and get federal resources in place to help transportation systems come back on line.

More than 2.6 million people remained without power in several states after Sandy came ashore Monday night.

About 900,000 people still didn’t have electricity in the New York metropolitan area, including about 550,000 on Long Island, Cuomo said. About 80 percent of New York City’s subway service has been restored, he added.

The restoration of power beat the sunrise Saturday in the West Village, though just barely. Electricity arrived at 4:23 a.m., said Adam Greene, owner of Snack Taverna, a popular eatery.

“This morning, I took a really long, hot shower,” he said.

Greene said one woman had stopped in Saturday to drop off $10 for the staff, saying she regretted she didn’t have enough cash to tip adequately during the blackout.

He joked that 28th Street, above which had power, was like “Checkpoint Charlie.”

“You crossed 28th Street and people were living a comfortable life,” Greene said. “Down here it was dark and cold.”

Throughout the West Village, people were emerging from their hibernation, happy to regain their footing. Stores started to reopen. Signs at a Whole Foods Market promised that fresh meat and poultry and baked goods would return Sunday.

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