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Pain at the Pump: Long Lines and High Prices Make Driving Tough

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Which is more insane: waiting hours in line for gas or waiting hours in line for gas that costs over four dollars a gallon? We’ve all heard of the oil crisis of the 1970’s and scoffed at the idea of encountering a similar dilemma in our generation. Hurricane Sandy proved us wrong.

Senior Dominic Notti commented, “I just tried to drive only when it was necessary because I might not have been able to get [gas].”  “I was really scared to get gas because I thought I was always going to run out so I saved all of my gas. I felt like it was really important to have a full tank of gas during a time of need like that,” added senior Dani Silber.

The students weren’t the only ones to be affected by the gas shortage.  Art teacher Mrs. Montiglio said that the gas situation made everything “difficult and stressful.”  She added, “I could only go out and drive when it was absolutely a necessity.”  Although seniors could have taken the bus to school, it would have been tougher for the faculty to get to school if the shortage continued for longer than it did.

The past few weeks have brought us back to reality as shown by the slow recovery in the Dix Hills area.  Governor Andrew Cuomo had originally said that the gas shortage would be resolved by Election Day, but this turned out to be a grave underestimation.  Fortunately, on November 9th, the launch of the odd and even day system for obtaining gas eliminated most lines. The system worked like this: cars with license plates that end in an odd number or a letter could fill up at gas stations on odd numbered days of the month (9th, 11th, etc.), and cars with license plates that end in even numbers could fill up on even numbered days (10th, 12th, etc.). This system was very successful in cutting down lines.  The rationing ended in Suffolk and Nassau County after only one week, while New York City decided to continue the rationing an extra week.

Not only was there a problem with the availability of gas, but the price of gas has gone up on the island as well. Although gas prices have decreased nationally, price gouging has meant that the tri-state area has had to pay up to $4.50 for a gallon of regular gas in the past few weeks. Price gouging occurs when a business (in this case gas stations) raises the prices of its products to unreasonable amounts because of an increase in demand and reduction in supply.  At least 13 gas stations are being investigated for this, and it is suspected that many more are responsible for price gouging. Gas prices do seem to be declining though, with average prices dropping down to $3.57 a gallon as of December 10th in Nassau and Suffolk County.  Hopefully these lower prices are a sign of things to come.

How can Long Island avoid another calamity like this in the future? Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern has introduced a bill that would require gas stations to have alternative ways to generate power, which would keep the station running even without power from LIPA.  Unfortunately, a plan to prevent a gas shortage after a hurricane has not been offered up yet.  Considering Long Island has suffered from two hurricanes in the past two years, we can only hope that problems with handling storms can be resolved so we can be better equipped for the future.

This gas crisis after Hurricane Sandy truly put Long Islanders in a period of distress even after the superstorm. It also raises questions about the ability of Long Island to get gas and gas shipments if further problems occur.