Gasoline is a scarce commodity in Montclair, and people are lining up for hours at the few working gas stations.
On Friday, Bloomfield Avenue gas stations were vacant. Signs, orange cones and yellow police tape around gas pumps informed passersby that no gas was to be found there.
The Valero gas station, at 120 Watchung Ave., and the Lukoil gas station, at 575 Valley Road, were two of the few gas stations in the surrounding area actually operating on Friday. People from Montclair and beyond waited for hours at both stations -- some sitting in their cars, while others waited in the cold with gas canisters.
The influx of traffic and long lines wrapping around local streets has forced additional Montclair police officers to oversee the fill-ups, said Business Manger Marc Dashield on Friday.
Montclair resident Penwah was standing at the Valero for more than two hours with three gas canisters in a shopping cart before she neared the front of the line.
“People are afraid and unprepared,” said Penwah.
Behind Penwah at about 2 p.m., police coordinated more than 50 people waiting in line with gas canisters. On the other side of the station, the line of cars waiting for a fill-up stretched along Watching Avenue, then about 2,000 feet down North Fullerton Avenue, and then around another corner up Wildwood Avenue for nearly 500 feet.
Nick Zacharias, owner of the Valero, said the station had lost electricity during Hurricane Sandy. He was able to open the station for the first time since the storm on Thursday with the help of two generators.
On Friday, Zacharias was limiting people to $50 of gas per vehicle, or 5-gallon canisters. He said he has not received any new shipments of gasoline since the storm, but he expects a delivery on Tuesday.
Zacharias said the gasoline shortage and long lines are starting to wear people thin. Working the station with other gas station attendants, he said people are becoming abusive and short tempered.
“People are in distress,” said Zacharias. “[People] think their problem is the only problem in the universe. ... You can only do so much.”
It was the same scene at the Lukoil gas station on Valley Road on Friday. Police directed people as they waited in line to refill gas cans and cars for hours.
Montclair resident Colette Sipperly was getting her car filled after waiting more than two hours in line.
“It feels very good,” said Sipperly to finally fill her car. “I have another empty [car] at home.”
Emergency vehicles currently have enough gas, said Dashield on Friday, but the township is “monitoring the situation very closely” as supplies dwindle. Municipal pumps are working, and more deliveries are expected soon to replenish supplies.
“The lines are horrible,” said Dashield. Lines were so long at the Delta gas next to the police station on Thursday that police had trouble exiting the department’s parking lot.
Councilor Sean Spiller said that many residents are complaining about rowdy and noisy lines stretching for hundreds of feet past their homes. He also mentioned reports of people following gas trucks in hopes for a fill-up.