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Hungry, weary New Yorkers with flooded homes and no power for days are begging officials for help as motorists are becoming increasingly desperate for gas -- waiting in line at the pump for hours, and in one case, pulling a gun to get fuel.
With hundreds of thousands in the city still struggling without basic services, Mayor Bloomberg late Friday announced that the New York City marathon was canceled, after mounting criticism that the event would draw precious resources away from the recovery effort.
"The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, so we have decided to cancel it."
The decision was applauded by storm victims, who have been scrambling to acquire basic supplies to survive and get to work.
With gasoline supplies scarce, many stations in and around the tri-state closed up shop while stations still open drew long lines of cars that spilled out onto roadways.
Cabdriver Harum Prince joined a nearly mile-long line for gasoline Friday in Manhattan after already spending three hours in a similar queue in the Bronx — only to have the station run out of gas when it was almost his turn.
"I don't blame anybody," he said. "God, he knows why he brought this storm."
Authorities say a driver was arrested after he tried to cut in line at a gas station in Queens early Thursday and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained.
Sandy damaged ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines. Without power, fuel terminals can't pump gasoline onto tanker trucks, and gas stations can't pump fuel into customers' cars.
New York Harbor had been closed after the storm, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was now open and tankers are now coming in.
Cuomo told New Yorkers not to panic and said millions of gallons of fuel were arriving Friday. He said he had also waived the state-required registration and tax for fuel tankers to speed up the delivery process.
"I don't want to lose the money but we do want to accelerate the flow of gasoline," Cuomo said. "There should be a real change in condition and people should see it quickly."
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie ordered an off-even gas rationing system in 12 counties at noon on Saturday. Residents with license plates ending in an even number will be able to buy gas on even-numbered days and residents with plates ending in an odd number can make gas purchases on odd-numbered days.
The Department of Homeland Security is also temporarily waiving some maritime rules to allow foreign oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she is waiving the Jones Act, which prohibits international cargo ships from transporting oil between U.S. ports, until Nov. 13.
Winston Alfred, a courier who needs his van to make deliveries, was second in line when the pumps ran dry at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Brooklyn.
Police allowed drivers near the front of the line to park in case a tanker came to the Gowanus area station. The station clerk had called the company about getting a tanker. But he hadn't heard back yet.
About a mile away, in Sunset Park, people had been in line at another Hess station since 11 p.m. Thursday. The line stretched 2½ miles.
Besides the drivers, both stations attracted lines of people holding gas cans for their generators.
Throughout the region, millions of customers are still without power but chunks of blackout-plagued Manhattan were slowly getting their power back. Con Edison said the lights went back at around 5 p.m. Friday in apartment buildings and businesses on the Lower East Side and in the East Village. Over the next few hours, power returned to other neighborhoods, from Chelsea, to Union Square, to City Hall.
Con Ed says it expects to have power back in the bulk of Manhattan's blackout zone by Saturday.
Others still enduring outages would likely not have service restored until next weekend, and customers in the hardest hit areas could be without power for a week beyond that or even longer, the utility said.
Bloomberg said school, which has been out for a week, would resume Monday, but said as many as 40 school buildings will likely not have power and won't be able to open until later in the week.
About 5,500 people are still staying in 15 city shelters, the mayor said.
The city is distributing meals and bottled water in hard-hit areas through Sunday. Word of that emergency help came Thursday as NBC 4 New York found people digging through Dumpsters for food in the East Village, and as Staten Island residents said they were desperate for supplies.
The city said Friday that tap water in Breezy Point, Queens, was not drinkable and that all residents should drink bottled water until further notice. Boiling it does not make it safe, officials said.
The tri-state death toll reached a grim milestone on Thursday, surpassing 50 with the confirmation of more fatalities on Staten Island.
The bodies of two young boys, 2 and 4, were among those found Thursday. Their mother told police that they were swept away by rising waters during the storm.
New Jersey got the brunt of Sandy, which made landfall in the state and killed 14 people there. About 1.4 million customers were without power Thursday, down from a peak of 2.7 million.
Christie says his office has compiled a list of when utility companies expect to restore electric service to every affected community.
He said he will make the list public so residents can better plan their lives.
He says 8,000 out-of-state utility workers have now arrived in New Jersey, joining 10,000 based in the state.
Meanwhile Friday, throughout the region, frustrated commuters continued to endure long lines at bridges and subway transfer points.
Traffic snarled on bridges leading into Manhattan as police set up checkpoints to make sure three occupants were in cars traveling into the city — a rule aimed at reducing road congestion. Bloomberg said that order would end at 5 p.m. on Friday, but could be reinstated if Monday's commute was just as bad.
Subway service got its second morning commute test Friday, but it was spotty -- there are no trains below 34th Street in Manhattan, an area still largely without power, and buses are supplementing service between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
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