The line for gas at the East Norwich Gulf Station stretched five blocks on Monday afternoon, wrapping around Northern Blvd. and down Oyster Bay Road to Gilbert Court. This is the new normal in post-Hurricane Sandy Long Island as one of the worst gas shortages persists.
Closed down for 20 minutes at around 2:45 p.m. Monday, people at the Gulf station were becoming restless. A woman with a coffee and sunglasses stepped into the mechanic's bay where the employees were eating sandwiches and accused them of "taking a lunch break" before stepping back outside.
"We explained to her what's going on and she still says we're on lunch break," said Owner Dalvinder Singh. "The last four days we've been constantly helping the community. Our guys slept two hours a day. We had to shut the generator off to make it cool. We'll put the power back on in half an hour and everything will be fine."
A cluster of people sat talking and waiting with gas cans around the empty pumps while the cars idled up the street. The 20,000 gallons in the ground would surely be used up in no time and the pumps empty again before the next delivery on Tuesday, they weren't taking any chances.
"I've been waiting for nine hours, I'm ready to kill myself," Jason, from Locust Valley, joked. He pulled into Oyster Bay Hess at 4 a.m. Monday morning in anticipation of an 8 a.m. gas delivery. No such luck.
Gas deliveries were delayed and by hours and he left emptyhanded. Leaving his car parked in line along with dozens of others, he had a friend drop him off at Gulf with five gas cans.
"I didn't go to work today because I have no gas," he said, adding that he will return home to a house without power and without a generator.
Despite frustration and frayed nerves, people on line for gas a Gulf were relatively calm and there had been no traffic accidents despite the unorthodox formation. "As long as they stay in line, there's not much we can do about," said a Nassau Police Officer directing traffic at the scene. "If people can get around them and they don't block any exits, they're fine."
He warned, however, that people who park their cars in the street to save a spot for gas may be towed and impounded. "But if no one complains they may get away with it," he added.
At the very end of the line, past La Pizzetta near Gilbert Court, Cheryl DeCarlo from East Norwich sat in her small SUV with the engine shut off. In 30 minutes she had moved one block, another hour of waiting and she'll have reached her limit.
Sunday night her husband was the last in line before the pumps shut down, a common bugaboo of those in the gas galleys. "I'm concerned that when I get there, there won't be anything left," she said.
Hopefully she's wrong.
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