New York City started rationing gas Friday morning as tempers remained short, lines remained long and panic buying continued more than 10 days after a deadly superstorm stunned the infrastructure of America's largest city.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the shortages could last another couple of weeks and that only a quarter of the city's gas stations were open. Some had no power, and others couldn't get fuel from terminals.
"This is designed to let everybody have a fair chance," Bloomberg said of the new system, based on even-numbered and odd-numbered license plates, that lets drivers fill up every other day.
However, Bloomberg's estimate was countered by the Energy Department, which said that more than 70 per cent of the city's stations have gas available for sales.
The gas lines appeared to shrink Friday. "It's a lot better," said Manhattan driver Luis Cruz said. "A couple of days ago I waited four hours. They should have done this a long time ago." The line to his station was just a block and a half long. Before Friday, some lines stretched for a mile (1.6 kilometres) or more.
Superstorm Sandy killed more than 100 people in several states, most of them in New York and New Jersey, and its damage has been estimated at up to $50 billion. That makes it the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
By Friday, the Red Cross had raised $117 million in donations and pledges for relief work across 10 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Salvation Army had raised $5 million online and by phone.