As residents of New York and New Jersey await recovery in the wake of Superstorm Sandy they are finding that, more often than not, they need to wait in line.
The needs may be power, gas, pay phones or public transportation. Regardless, get in line.
In Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., drivers waited in their cars in lines that stretched half a mile long on Route 17 South just to inch closer to a Shell station, hoping for the big pay-off: the honor of forking over money to fill up their tanks or put fuel in their generators before gas ran out.
Some even waited on foot with gas cans in hand. The station owner told ABC News that a $30 limit was imposed, but it wouldn't be enough to help everyone in line.
After waiting for hours, many left empty-handed.
Even though 10 counties of New Jersey have been granted federal aid, New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez wrote a letter to the president today requesting that the critical shortages plaguing residents be supplemented further.
"We are dealing with a crisis on the ground with rescue and recovery where millions are without power and without basic necessities," the senators wrote. "Furthermore, our constituents are sitting in lines up to a mile long waiting to fuel their vehicles, tying up local resources that are managing traffic conditions in these areas.
"You have shown extraordinary leadership helping us cope with this terrible storm," they wrote, "and we urge you to use the full force of the federal government, including using military assets, to bring this needed help to our state."
Even if people were able to get gas, it was highly unlikely that they could travel very far without getting stuck in traffic. While many bridges are open in New York and New Jersey, they are clogged with traffic as the reality of shuttered public transportation systems sinks in.
Newly imposed carpool rules forbidding cars with less than three passengers from entering Manhattan are intended to relieve congestion in the city. But they only seemed to add to the long lines. Checkpoints were set up on the highways to enforce ridesharing.
With subway lines out of commission, the swarms of people waiting for buses outside venues like Brooklyn's Barclays Center also had to wait their turns.
ABC affiliate WABC reported that more than 1,000 people waited just to hop aboard, lines stretching for blocks. As the stream of buses slowed down, many were left without rides.
"Where are the buses?" one man was overhead saying.