Gas Shortage and More Bodies Mar Sandy Recovery

Huge lines form for the few buses available.

ByABC News
November 1, 2012, 3:18 AM

Nov. 1, 2012— -- New Jersey and New York, struggling to recover from the wreckage of Sandy, were staggered today by a gas shortage and an overwhelmed transit system as more victims of the deadly storm were found.

Four bodies were located on Staten Island, New York City's smallest borough and the one most exposed to the water. Two of the bodies were boys, aged 2 and 4, who were washed away from the roof of their family's car where their mother had put them to avoid the flood waters.

So far at least 19 people died from the storm on Staten Island. The deaths push the regional toll for Sandy's rampage to more than 80, according to the AP.

The region struggled to get back on its feet today and throughout New Jersey, the hardest hit state, motorists roamed for hours looking for a gas station that had power and still had gasoline. And when a station was located, the line to the pump could last two hours.

Joseph McGinn, a spokesman for Sunoco, cited power outages, closed roads and supply disruptions as obstacles to keeping their stations supplied.

"We are working diligently to get all of our affected retail locations in New Jersey and New York back to full service as quickly as possible," McGinn said.

Those with gas who had to commute into New York City encountered a major traffic jam at the Lincoln Tunnel, one of only two entrances to the city from New Jersey that hadn't been closed down because of damage from Sandy.

Tens of thousands of motorists tried to beat Mayor Bloomberg's edict that after 6 a.m. cars must have three people in them or be turned away, creating a pre-dawn line for the tunnel that was backed up for more than a mile.

Even travel within the city was gridlocked as the mayor's three-passenger rule extended to bridges into Manhattan, making a trip from Brooklyn or Queens into the heart of the city last several hours.

Photos: Assessing Sandy's Destruction

The first limited bus and train services came to life, but many of the buses were quickly filled to capacity, creating enormous lines to get on them and forcing drivers to skip stops and roll past hordes of waiting passengers.

In Brooklyn, lines for buses at the new Barclays sports area wound twice around the block-long sports palace before getting near a bus. A typical wait this morning for a bus at the stop was an hour.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recognized the seriousness of the transportation gridlock.

"I am declaring a transportation state of emergency and authorizing the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] to waive fares on rails, subways through the end of the week, Thursday and Friday," the governor said.

New York City buses serve 2.3 million people on an average day, and two days after the storm they were trying to handle many of the 5.5 million daily subway riders, too.

Hurricane Sandy: Full Coverage

"We are going to need some patience and some tolerance," Cuomo said.

Nevertheless, Cuomo assured New Yorkers, "The worst is behind us."

At the worst of the storm's aftermath, 8.5 million people were left in the dark, but that number has been pared to 6 million, with outages as far west as Wisconsin and as far south as the Carolinas.

The Pentagon launched an airlift using 17 military cargo planes to bring a fleet of utility vechicles to the region to speed repairs. Utility crews have been traveling to the area by road to help out.

Cuomo also announced that FEMA will start the delivery of 1 million gallons of water and 1 million pounds of food to seniors running out of food in high-rise buildings without power.

New York's LaGuardia Airport reopened today, the last of the region's major airports to resume air service.

But schools remain shut throughout the region.

Severe problems persisted with widespread flooding crippling Hoboken, N.J. Utility crews and tree crews worked to remove hundreds of trees that had toppled throughout New Jersey and were entangled with power lines and had pulled down utility poles.

On Wednesday night the Coast Guard confirmed to ABC News that an oil facility in Sewaran, N.J., owned by Motiva, spilled oil into New York harbor. Motiva said that two diesel storage tanks were damaged during the storm.

Motiva released a statement to ABC News, saying, an "unknown amount" of diesel has been released and they are working with local agencies "to conduct a thorough inspection and damage assessment of its petroleum terminals that were situated in the path of Hurricane Sandy."

PHOTOS: Sandy - Before and After