On their fifth day without power, Superstorm Sandy victims are learning more about the resources we really depend on.
“It’s amazing how much we need gas. How much we need electricity, and how much we need each other,” John Curley’s sister, Lori reported from her dark home in New Jersey, on Seattle’s Morning News Friday.
Homes have grown chilly without heat. Food spoiled in refrigerators. Televisions remain silent. And people everywhere are searching for a spot to charge their cell phones.
Lori says her family has been using the car to keep their essential cell phone connection for emergencies and just plain human contact.
“For the most part, we’re using our phones just to contact one another, check on each other, ‘How are you? How’s it going?'”
But keeping the charge from the car requires gas, which is in short supply.
Motorists increasingly desperate for a fill-up are waiting in long lines at gas stations as fuel shortages in Sandy’s wake spread.
With fuel deliveries in the East disrupted by storm damage and many gas stations lacking electricity to run their pumps, gasoline has become precious.
Some drivers complain they’ve waited in lines three and four hours long, only to see the pumps run out when it was almost their turn.
Lori’s family is tracking open gas stations through Twitter.
“You go on there and you search ‘gas stations’ and then you see where everybody is and whether or not it’s open because people are tweeting about, ‘I’m in a line,’ ‘I’m an hour away.’ Then you find out where the gas station is, you hop in your car and drive toward it.”
She’s even witnessed people waiting at stations that are out of gas, hoping that a delivery will come soon. Grocery store supplies are also running low.
“These supermarkets are pitch dark and you can’t get anything cold or hot and the bread is all gone.”
Trips to the store though are a more welcome occasion than trips to the gas station. Lori says tempers are rising with frustrated drivers waiting for fuel.
“Police are starting to hang out at the gas stations,” says Lori, “because people are losing patience.”
Utilities are struggling to restore power. Sandy blacked out some of the nation’s most densely populated cities and suburbs, instantly taking away modern conveniences from Virginia to Massachusetts and as far west as the Great Lakes.
For power companies, the scale of the destruction was unmatched, more widespread than any blizzard or ice storm and worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
More than 3.8 million homes and businesses in the East are still without power at last report, down from a peak of 8.5 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.