Bergen County officials are urging local governments to conserve fuel as concerns are mounting that a gasoline shortage could impact emergency services and utility repair crews responding to Sandy's devastation.
"If we don't get fuel in a couple of days, obviously, emergency services stop and so do all the restoration people," Bergen County Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Dwane Razzetti told officials in a Wednesday afternoon briefing.
The county can transport limited amounts of fuel, but only for critical public safety uses, he added. Local officials can make requests through Bergen's emergency operations center.
"Everybody is starting to run out of fuel," Razzetti said.
The region's main ports, in Newark and Elizabeth, were not yet operational, cutting off supplies to the area, he explained. Federal and state authorities were working to get fuel flowing to the area.
"In the coming days it's going to reverse, but until it is, conserve as much as you can," he said in a conference call. "It's going to be critical."
Demand for consumer gasoline was also rising, with long lines snarling traffic. In Teaneck, police were called to direct traffic at two open stations on Teaneck Road.
Razzetti, a 20-year emergency management veteran, said Sandy was the worst storm he's seen.
"I have never seen a mix of storms of this magnitude," he said.
About 300 people were sheltered at Bergen Community College, which was running on generator power, officials said. Another 200 people from flood-wrecked Little Ferry and Moonachie were staying at the county-run Teterboro shelter.
PSE&G was continuing restoration work in the county, although thousands remained without service.
Tenafly Mayor Peter Rustin said although crews were out quicker after the storm, communication with local authorities remained an issue.
Power was starting to come back on in hard-hit Teaneck, but Township Councilman Elie Y. Katz said the company told him full service might not be restored for three to six days.
PSE&G has held regular conference calls with local and elected officials.
Price-gouging remained a concern as storm-weary locals hunted for supplies. Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan assured officials the illegal activity would be fully investigated by county inspectors.
Fair Lawn Borough Administrator Tom Metzler said he was working to move polling places that lost power, but needed approval from the county election's superintendent.
Donovan said officials would update towns on how to tackle election issues in a conference call Thursday.