In the chaotic weeks after Hurricane Sandy rolled across Nassau County, residents, desperate for the gasoline that was in such short supply, learned a new routine: get up before dawn and get to an open gas station before your friends and neighbors did. It was survival of the fittest — or at least the most sleep-deprived.
But Nassau County isn’t a jungle. It’s suburbia, a supposedly advanced, enlightened society.
Sandy exposed serious cracks in our storm preparedness. No one, it seemed, had anticipated a gasoline crisis after a hurricane. Now we know better. Now we must act to make sure that, next time, residents who depend on their vehicles will not once again be left virtually helpless. We need a way to get gasoline for our cars and generators –– our lifelines in a disaster –– if there is no electricity.
When service stations lost power, they could not pump gasoline. People waited for hours at stations whose lights — and pumps — were still on. If stations had been equipped with generators, many of the long lines could have been avoided.
We can be thankful that the Town of Hempstead recently acted, becoming the first municipality in Nassau County to require stations to have backup generators. The ordinance, called the Gas Station Generator Law, applies to all stations within the township that pump more than 100,000 gallons of gasoline a month.
The legislation, which was proposed by Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Anthony Santino and passed by the town board on Jan. 22, requires gasoline retailers to comply with the new requirement by January 2015. Newly constructed facilities must immediately meet the new standard.