Superstorm Sandy Creates Gas Shortage, Headaches

New Jersey and New York struggling to fuel homes and cars as most gas stations out of order.

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Superstorm Sandy continues to wreak havoc on New York and New Jersey, where it has knocked out over half of the region's gas stations, causing long lines and high tensions for residents struggling to keep their cars running and their generators firing.

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The frustrating fight for fuel has forced New Jersey state troopers to step in, where more than 80 percent of the gas stations are unable to sell fuel, according to the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association.

Would-be customers at the few remaining stations are waiting upwards of three hours to gas up.

"This is the worst I've ever seen it. It's totally terrible," Keith Mittenzwei, who drove 60 miles from the shore to fuel up, told CBS News. "I've been to six stations and every one I've pulled up to now has been empty."

Many need the gasoline not for their cars, but for generators. An estimated 4.5 million people still don't have electricity, including about 2.5 million in the New York City area.

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"I don't have any lights and need this gasoline for my generator," Abdul Rahim Anwar told Reuters as he waited at a station in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

In most cases, the gas shortage is not due to lack of fuel, but inability to distribute it. If there's no power, the gas can't be pumped from underground tanks and into customers' cars or cans. Two of the region's six oil refineries remain down, preventing a quarter of the area's gasoline supply from reaching the market. Even if the refineries are working, many of the trucks that transport the gas are damaged from flooding.

An ambulance sits abandoned in the middle of a flooded street after Hurricane Sandy hit Hoboken, N.J.

Hoboken, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christies has temporarily waived restrictions on stations buying gasoline from out-of-state suppliers to help alleviate some of the issues.

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In short, the storm has disrupted the entire supply chain, leaving thousands without fuel and electricity. To make matters worse the outage, which could last a week or more, could also result in higher prices in the New York-New Jersey area for those who do make it to the pump.

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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.