NYC Marathon canceled, N.J. gas rationed

Nov. 2, 2012 at 9:16 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday canceled the New York City Marathon, while Gov. Chris Christie ordered gas to be rationed in 12 New Jersey counties.

Bloomberg said the marathon must be canceled to avoid "a cloud over the race or its participants." He had said the marathon would go on as scheduled Sunday, but critics said it would be a mistake to devote resources to running the marathon that could otherwise be used to help recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

"The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City's life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch," Bloomberg said in a statement Friday. "While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division.

"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," Bloomberg said. "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."

The marathon controversy grew at the same time as frustration -- and, at times, anger -- mounted among people recovering from the storm.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday the fuel shortage in the affected area could endanger public health, safety and welfare in announcing rationing for fuel purchases in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties, the (Newark) Star-Ledger reported. Beginning at noon Saturday, vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can only be filled on odd-numbered days of the month, and even numbers on even days. Plates not ending in a number are to be considered odd and should fill up on odd-number days.

The U.S. Energy Department is releasing its heating oil reserves for the first time in history, beginning with a release of 2 million gallons, CNBC reported. The Defense Department is trucking in 24 million gallons to the area, and federal authorities have lifted restrictions on deliveries by foreign-flagged ships, The New York Times reported. However, those deliveries won't make it to the consumer in big numbers until the floodwaters have receded and power has been restored, NPR said.

Authorities said the U.S. death toll attributed to Hurricane Sandy climbed to at least 97, including 40 in the New York metropolitan area and 13 in New Jersey, 13 in Pennsylvania, 10 in Maryland, four in Connecticut, five in West Virginia, two in Virginia, one in North Carolina and one on the HMS Bounty, CNN reported.

Police arrested a New York man for pulling a gun on another person while in line to buy gasoline -- in short supply after the hurricane.

Officials said Sean Bailey, 35, of New York tried to cut in line at a gas station Thursday, pointing a handgun at another patron who complained, Fox News reported. Bailey was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

In New Jersey, state troopers were deployed at all gas stations along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway as the region entered its fourth day of power outages, Fox News said.

"Troopers have been deployed to monitor the operational gas stations at the rest areas along the turnpike," New Jersey State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman said.

Officials said more than half of all gasoline stations in the New York City area and New Jersey have been idle either because they're out of fuel or lacked power to operate the pumps. Also, pipelines and refineries are shuttered because of storm damage.

Residents of southeastern Connecticut were driving more than an hour north to find stations in operation, Fox News said.

To help address fuel issues in the Sandy-affected areas, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a temporary waiver of the Jones Act Friday to allow additional oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to enter northeastern U.S. ports and provide additional fuel resources to the region.

"The administration's highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm damaged region," Napolitano said in a release.

Among other things, the Jones Act requires that goods carried from a U.S. port to another port be on a ship chartered and owned by American citizens, along with other protections for seamen.

Napolitano's action allows additional ships to move petroleum products from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast, increasing access to fuel in the storm damaged region, the department said. The waiver is effective through Nov. 13.

Residents in affected areas were also searching for batteries to operate flashlights and other electronics.

At a Lowe's building supplies store in Orange, N.Y., one manager said he and other employees have stayed in nearby motels to keep the store open.

"You see the worst in people at a time like this," he told Fox News. "We're trying to be there for them but they get angry when they can't get batteries or flashlights. I tell the staff not to take it personally -- people are hurting."

Power was restored early Friday to about half the estimated 10 million households and businesses that lost electricity, the Edison Electric Institute utility trade group said.

All of Manhattan was expected to have lights by Saturday, utility Consolidated Edison said. Neighborhoods served by overhead lines likely won't have power for at least another week, Bloomberg said.

New York City transit bottlenecks eased with the reopening of some subway lines but most transit in New Jersey was down. However, New Jersey Transit began limited commuter rail service to and from New York's Pennsylvania Station Friday.

Amtrak resumed southbound train service from Penn Station Thursday night and limited service to Boston Friday.

Amtrak said it will provide Acela Express and Northeast Regional regular weekend service Saturday and Sunday on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, via New York City.

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