Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey Storm Update: Gas Shortages, Power Still Out For Hundreds of Thousands

Gas shortages expected to last days and power could remain out for seven to ten for nearly a million homes


gonna have to put another sign up tomorrow

PSE&G says power to its remaining 700,000 power-less customers in New Jersey could take up to seven to ten days to restore. Most of the utility's 1.7 million customers lost power after Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Jersey shore.  Another million homes serviced by other utilities in the state remained without power as of last night too. 8 million homes and businesses lost power on the East Coast after the storm, including 62 percent of New Jersey.  The loss of power is also contributing to a gas shortage. Gas stations with power, and gas, are being overwhelmed by customers*, while prices are not going up to reflect less supply and more demand, likely because station owners are fearful of the political backlash to perceived "price gouging." State troopers have been deployed as the lines are expected for several more days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, meanwhile, has been busy being/acting in charge, increasingly the role of politicians after disasters. He even cancelled Halloween last night and rescheduled trick or treating for next Monday instead (you didn't know he had the power?) President Obama visited Christie and the state yesterday, on his last day off the campaign trail before the election on Tuesday, and vowed things would be back to normal.

But it's not politicians who will eventually get the power back on, it's the power company. From the Star-Ledger:

Since Tuesday, crews at the Newark [PSE&G] facility have been using toothbrushes to scrub equipment, including a bank of 60 battery cells that total 135 volts and are integral to the switching station's daily operations. Tiny copper plates had to be cleaned of green corrosion while control panels were stained with mud.

"All this was underwater. We just got done cleaning them up," said Steve Hammett, a PSE&G worker who had just finished cleaning the cells yesterday.

You can't have power for cities and towns without switching stations. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, nearly half of PSE&G's more than 1 million outages were the result of flooded switching stations.

*Of note too is that a lot of gas stations don't have the capability to take cards post-storm. Cash is not part of the government's primary list of emergency supplies, but an "additional" recommendation, like pet food or puzzles. Carrying cash, in fact, can be suspicious.  

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  1. I know it’s bad, I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but revel in the schadenfreude knowing the eastern wankers are sucking saltwater into their electrical grid.

    But I’m enjoying it. Sorry.

    1. Glad you’re enjoying my misery.

      1. 🙁 I do hope it’s not too bad

        1. Not for me, I’m one of the few people in the area who still have power. Can’t go to work though as office has no power, and just spent an hour on line at 5:30 this morning to get a ration of $20 worth of gas. We’re better off than most in NJ tough.

          1. ‘tough’=’though’

    2. Wow, you’re a bigger dick than I could have given you credit for.

      1. Is it Almanian the dick who posts the epic glee any time a cop is killed, regardless of the circumstances?

        1. No, but thanks for the idea!

  2. Speaking of trick or treating, we didn’t have a SINGLE KID show up at our house last night. And we were all ready with whole bags of chips to hand out, along with ginsing and ginger flavored asian candy. So we could be the best, and wierdest house in town.

    But no. We carved a pumpkin, we put the porch light on. Nobody.
    What is wrong with people?

    1. We had a bunch. We give out full-size Hershey, Snicker, M&M, Reeses and Almond Joy. Put one of those in a kid’s bag and watch his eyes pop!

      Best costume of the night was a little girl who walked up saying, “I’m Chuckie’s wife. Have you seen my husband?” Too wonderful!

      1. Not a single kid, but then again I live in the area of town where people go out to eat, get drunk and laid, and you have to be buzzed into my building. Pretty effective at keeping the little fuckers away. Also, by not being there from 6:30-8:30 I spared myself anyone who might have gotten through the defenses.

    2. Two sets of kids only. Of course, it started a very cold rain right in the middle of the set times.

    3. I’m guessing it was your “Apples/Razor Baldes – U Pick! 5?” sign that scared ’em off.

    4. Oddly enough, neither did I Hazel. A few years ago, my doorbell was pretty much non-stop with costumed urchins at the door. It’s been on the steady decline, but not one kiddo rung the bell. And there are plenty of families in my soon-to-be-erstwhile neighborhood.

      I think Playdate Parents are opting for Halloween Parties and things like that. I also remember when malls were the rage they sponsored a Trick-or-Treat type affair where kids could go from store to store doing the Halloween thing.

      I suspect that Trick-or-Treating will eventually go the way of the dodo, which is a shame.

    5. No kids at our house, either.

      I chalk it up to the razor wire, dark, forbidding windows, the “Achtung Minen” signs, and the pit bulls in spiked collars chained to the porch.

      That, or we live in the country and our neighbors don’t have kids.

      1. When we lived in the country and all the houses were 1/2 a mile apart or so, it did cut down on the walk in traffic.

    6. Cripes, it was the usual human wave candy attack in our neighborhood. Fortuantely I had a Nestle’s truckload waiting for the little beggars.

    7. Probably that you’re giving out ginsing and ginger flavored asian candy, rather than chocolate. Kids do have some standards.

    8. I was sitting on a friend’s porch about a block away from one of the streets that goes all out. We had to accost people to give away candy.

    9. I wonder if parents would love me if I gave out Astropops?

      Kind of moot, since I didn’t get any kids. In the 12 years I’ve lived in my condo-of-doom, I’ve only had about 5 or 6 trick-or-treaters. Total.

  3. Hurricane Ike took my power out for FIVE DAYS in Western PA but I didn’t see anyone posting reason articles about it.

    1. lulz

      We lost power for four days about 5 years ago when we first moved back to MI. Yep – not one firetruck or Red Cross worker out our way. We made a campfire in the yard and cooked food over it, lived off our emergency water, and made it to work each day (showered there). That’s what convinced me to finally buy the generator…that I still haven’t gotten around to purchasing (Mrs. Almanian and I discussed last night – Christmas present to ourselves this year).

      The one that sticks in my craw was all that flooding in TN and environs I want to say it was last summer (?). Almost nothing on the news, wasn’t declared a disaster area – all the country music people were taking donations, but the Feds did shit.

      I think the country music people did a better job…

      1. We got well and truly fucked in 2010 by floods here in Nashville. We didn’t ask for, nor did we want, the feds to swoop in on a white horse. But it would have been nice to get noticed a bit more. My family in other parts of the country had no idea the level of devestation.

        1. One of my many persistent sources of irritation is the blinkered parochialism of the NY media.

          They are firmly convinced that people outside of NYC give a shit what their commutes are, and blow scads of airtime on it.

          Really, we don’t care. We all assume living in NYC involves a lot of suck, which is why we don’t live there.

          1. And dealing with the losses, both financial and material, when hit by something like a storm is another reason why I don’t live in certain places.

            I don’t live in CA because I don’t want to deal with an earthquake, or the financial fallout from having my home disappear. I don’t live near a major river so I don’t have to deal with flooding, or the financial consequences of having my home washed away. I no longer live in FL so that I don’t have to deal with hurricanes, or the financial consequences of having my home blown away (again).

            Yet, because of fucking FEMA and nationalized flood insurance, I forced to pay for all of the shit that I’m purposefully avoiding. And it doesn’t help that states are ensuring that the feds pay for the vast majority of their cleanup efforts.

            Stop making me pay for the decisions of others. I don’t live in NYC, and I don’t give a shit about their subways being flooded, and I certainly shouldn’t be forced to pay for a coastal city that decided having vast sections of infrastructure under-fucking-ground was a good idea.

            1. I am hearing on the propaganda outlets there are already screams of “KATRINA IN NY!!!

              I share your sentiments, MLG.

              1. The incessant screaming about SUPERSTORM SANDY is not only unwarranted, it’s fucking obnoxious. It was a low level hurricane that met up with a cold front. I’ve literally walked fucking whales in rehabilitation pools during hurricanes stronger (back when I was a volunteer for MARS – Marine Animal Rescue Society).

                It doesn’t help that the propaganda outlets are also screaming “GLOBAL WARMING!!!!!!!” over and over and over.

    2. Five or six years ago, a freak ice storm took out hundreds of miles of power lines in Eastern Iowa. I was only without power for 14 hours. My boss was without power for 14 days.

      I had a generator installed about 10 months later.

      1. I had a generator installed about 10 months later.

        Virginia saw several rough winters in the late 1990s that had a lot of freezing rain that kept bringing down trees on the power lines. That convinced me. Mine’s not that fancy, a cheap portable 5000 running watt machine from Sam’s Club or Costco. Enough to easily run the fridge, a microwave, some lights and charge the laptops and cellphones. Because the thing sits around for months or years between running, Sea Foam carb cleaner is our friend!

        1. I have an automatic generator that runs on natural gas. I live in the country and the rural electric company ain’t that reliable to start with.

          Sub-zero temperatures in the winter and my sump pump runs like crazy in the spring and early summer.

          So I have to worry about not being home if power goes out and I’m out of town for a few days.

          1. For the Remote Dean Compound in NM, I’m looking at having a full-house natural gas generator put in.

            I was surprised at how affordable (relatively speaking) they are.

            Still debating whether to go solar or grid, but in either case, a backup/supplement is a good idea.

            1. I can drive half the circuits in my house if the power goes out. I seriously considered the whole-house generator. But I couldn’t justify the extra house. I have the generator to protect the house (bursting pipes in the winter, flooding in the spring, etc) not necessarily to keep me comfortable.

              I can heat/cool the house, heat water, run the sump pump, keep the fridge running, run a microwave, and light the most important rooms in the house.

    3. IIRC Ike missed Central & Eastern Virginia.

      I remember a Reason story about the DC Metro shutting down very early for Isabel. There may have been more but my internet didn’t come back for 10 days after that one. The cable company and I went around about that month’s bill. “Without electricity, how did you know cable and internet were out?” “I have a generator I ran every evening.” Oops.

    4. Hurricane Andrew took my power for 7 weeks, my water for nearly that, my phone for 9 months, and my cable for nearly 14 months. It was also my 16th birthday. A few days later, as mold was growing thick throughout my house and it was both safer and cooler to be outside (South Florida in late August/early September is FUCKING HOT AND HUMID AS BALLS), I had a cop pull a 12 gauge on me in my own front yard for the horrific crime of violating the mandatory curfew.

      It also took vast portions of my home and nearly all of our trees (How I loved thee, tangerine tree).

      It takes a whole lot for me to garner any sympathy, especially for people who are acting like a low grade hurricane is a sign of the end times.

      When you wake up and vast sections of your neighborhood are flattened and destroyed, let me know.

  4. Cash is not part of the government’s primary list of emergency supplies, but an “additional” recommendation, like pet food or puzzles. Carrying cash, in fact, can be suspicious.

    Not only do I have cash in my kit, but “junk” silver and ammo as alternative currencies. My sister’s kids think we’re nutjobs just for not relying of cards.

    1. I got a bunch of cash last week. It really paid off as alot of the gas stations that can actually still pump gas are going cash only.

    2. That’s what the gun is for: if anyone starts showing too much interest in the cash.

    3. Cash is often forgotten in emergency kits. Of it is remembered, it’s a couple of twenties.

      No, you need at least $500, and in lots of small denomination bills. People will not have change.

      1. Yeah, I’m bumping up the cash in the bugout bags.

  5. I’m thinking that lines at gas stations in NJ must be a particularly slow form of torture, given that there’s no such thing as self serve in the state ; for reasons not immediately evident to me, only gas station employees are deemed capable of pumping gas. This has slowed down progress on more than one road trip for me, though I’ve since learned to plan my trips south more carefully in order to avoid ever having to stop for gas south of New York and north of Pennsylvania or Delaware.

    1. for reasons not immediately evident to me, only gas station employees are deemed capable of pumping gas

      Oh, xenia, don’t be silly–it’s just your basic rent-seeking!

      1. I’ve just always wondered how the high-school-dropout-lifetime-minimum-wage-loser lobby became so powerful in NJ, and also why they haven’t yet instituted an occupational licensing regime for gas jockeys.

        1. Would you please stop giving them ideas!

        2. Watch a couple episodes of The Jersey Shore, and you’ll realize just how intrinsic the high-school-dropout-lifetime-minimum-wage-loser lobby is to the state of New Jersey.

          1. All the people on Jersey Shore are from Staten Island or other places…and not from Jersey.

            1. We may have 8+ million assholes, but the ones on TV are not from here!

    2. I’m thinking that lines at gas stations in NJ must be a particularly slow form of torture,

      You are correct.

    3. You think Jersey is bad, at least it’s Jersey and people tend to move pretty fast. Try Oregon. OH MY GOD.

      1. I found that out on a business trip to Eugene one time – I did not know that self-service was not onmipresent until that time.

    4. I don’t understand it, but I really don’t mind since gas in NJ is always cheaper than the surrounding states. I guess it pays to have local refiners.

      1. I remember back in 1989/90 being able to get gas in Jersey for less than a dollar per gallon. Good times.

        1. Back in the days when you could put $10 in the tank and drive for the week. I miss that.

      2. True, the gas is cheaper in Jersey, but my time has a price, too, and waiting in line at the pumps at a NJ Turnpike service area on a summer weekend more than offsets the cash savings.

        1. I don’t disagree. There should be self-serve available. I once had a cop yell at me for pumping my own gas a few years back. It was a company truck and the filler was fucked up and couldn’t take the full pressure of the pump. I knew the attendant and figured it’d be better for the both of us if I stood there and squeezed gently so he could help other customers. The cop didn’t care and made me stop, then he sat in his car watching me not pump my gas for the 20-25 minutes it took to fill it up. God I hated that truck.

          1. God I hated that truck.

            Bet you had some to spare for the cop, too.

          2. Why is that The Corpulent Jesus can’t issue some state of emergency temporarily suspending that ridiculous gas pumping law? That sure would be very convenient for you folks.

            I was under the impression that he can do anything!

            1. That thought hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind in this state. We’re born & bred not to pump our own. Plus you don’t want to piss of the Sikhs who work 90% of the stations in the state.

              1. The Sikhs and Pakistanis who own and operate the gas stations I frequent most often here in the Berkshires learned long ago that gas sales are valuable mainly for driving consumers inside to buy cigarettes, newspapers, coffee, energy drinks, lottery tickets, gallons of milk, blunt wrappers and various other necessities of life; indeed, Dunkin Donuts mini-shops, deli counters, ATMs, and even mini-branches of local banks pop up fairly often in gas stations around here. It’s kind of sad when MA looks likea comparative entrepreneurial paradise.

            2. Didn’t you hear? Moving halloween was more important.

              1. People were arguing over the halloween thing on my town’s FB page because Corpulent Jesus declared H’ween to be monday and our mayor decided to move it to saturday. I was just looking for info on what roads are/aren’t open and if the grocery stores in town got power. After reading the argument I said fuck it and drove into Warwick NY to get groceries. I hate people.

          3. Good times. There’s no experience so onerous that a cop can’t make it worse. I believe that may, in fact, be another iron law.

    5. You bypass the cheap gas in Jersey because of “full service”?!?!?!

      1. Nevermind – just saw your response!

      2. Only as a vacationing road-tripper passing through; a 20 to 30 minute wait on a hot day is just too much of a buzz-kill, and I’m sometimes more impatient than thrifty.

  6. Also, when did Gojira Jimbo start going by the moniker of Reliable Jim?

  7. Couldn’t you get around the “price gouging” charge by having two pumps, one that offers the gas at the before storm price and one that charges what the market will bear? Let the chumps that insist on $3.50 gas wait. (I’d happily pay $10 a gallon to avoid a 90 minute queue.)

  8. Carrying cash, in fact, can be suspicious.

    Natural disasters are ideal to flush out the criminal elements that insist on using legal tender to settle their debts, instead of electronic bits or Federation credits.

  9. Gas stations with power, and gas, are being overwhelmed by customers, while prices are not going up to reflect less supply and more demand, likely because station owners are fearful of the political backlash to perceived “price gouging.” State troopers have been deployed as the lines are expected for several more days

    Funny how they could expect that… Anyway, people who are woefully unsophisticated in economics will not realize that the true price of anything will let itself be known to the buyers in non-monetary ways just as easily as it would in monetary ways if the market was allowed to operate. In this case, the true price of fuel is the current $3 point whatever US Dollars PLUS two hours sitting in your car like an idiot.

    You can thank Big Government for that, and people like Alice Bowie and Tony, who prefer to bury their heads in the sandy sand rather than face the fact that the laws of economics are as unbreakable as the laws of physics.

    1. Yup – I would have gladly paid $10/gallon for a full tank and minimal wait rather than wait over an hour, at 5:30 AM no less, for a ration of $20 worth of gas.

  10. After 9/11 I wrote a column in praise of price gougers. That was not, um, universally well received, let us say.

  11. The wife waited on line for 2 hours to get gas up here in NW NJ. With only a handful of cars in front of her the pumps ran dry and had to go to another station.

  12. I have fled NJ, my powerless house, and the gas lines for Massachusetts.

    Ironically, I’ve seen more Romney ads in the past day and a half here than the past six months in NJ.

    Unfortunately, I have to return to NJ despite my lack of power because the %^$&ing; coaches started rescheduling games for my kids.

  13. I went through a severe gas shortage on vacation in western NC a few years back. The gas stations that managed to get gas did not need state troopers or any other law enforcement “protection”.

    Anyone care to guess why NC wouldn’t need po-po protection, and NJ would? (I know the answer)

    1. Maybe the NC station manager hanging out with streetsweeper or large rifle?

  14. The power outages are causing most of the shortages/panics/lines. There are tons of stations that have gas – they just have no power to pump. Nearby there are 5 stations sitting idle without power but plenty of gas.

    1. My retarded neighbors who run their generators 24/7 are to blame too.

      Get the water pressure up (we have wells), and the refrigerator cold – then turn the damn thing off. Instead they are running through all their gas every day, then rushing down to the only gas station in town to sit in line.

      1. That too. People weren’t even filling up their cars half the time, they’d just pull out gas-can after gas-can for their generators. I ran mine for about 4 hours out of the 24 I didn’t have power.

      2. the guy next-door to me who doesn’t have power has been running his non-stop since Monday night and has every fucking light on in his house.

      3. Get the water pressure up (we have wells), and the refrigerator cold – then turn the damn thing off.

        I don’t think you understand how well pumps work.

        Perhaps you have pressure tanks or an above ground reservoir.

        1. Yes – everyone in the neighborhood has pressure tanks.

  15. Since Tuesday, crews at the Newark [PSE&G] facility have been using toothbrushes to scrub equipment, including a bank of 60 battery cells that total 135 volts and are integral to the switching station’s daily operations. Tiny copper plates had to be cleaned of green corrosion while control panels were stained with mud.

    So like why don’t they stop building switching stations on flood plains? Or at least put sensitive equipment up on stilts or something?

    1. That station hadn’t flooded since it was built 40 some-odd years ago. They never expected anything like the storm surge that happened.

      1. [Bailey-esque disclaimer – my mom has worked at PSEG for over 30 years]

      2. I’m sure they didn’t expect it. The question is whether they should have expected it.

        The facility, located on the banks of the Passaic River, flooded at the height of the storm.

        Yes, who could have possibly foreseen that something built right next to a river might someday get flooded?

        1. That part of the Passaic is usually around 15-20 feet below the street level, even in the worst flooding in my memory it never went over the banks. Most of the Passaic’s flooding happens further upriver in Bergen & Passaic counties where the river is much closer to street level. It obviously isn’t a never-gonna-happen scenario but it certainly was the last thing anyone could imagine.

  16. I really hate war, why we should not live peace?

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