Friday, November 2, 2012

Tempers Flare During Storm Recovery

Motorists screamed at each other at gas stations as fuel shortages spread across the New York metropolitan area in the wake of Superstorm Sandy on Friday.

Long Lines, Rising Tempers Seen at Gas Stations

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Motorists increasingly desperate for a fill-up fumed in long lines at gas stations and screamed at each other Friday as fuel shortages in Superstorm Sandy's wake spread across the metropolitan area.
Meanwhile, a backlash appeared to be building against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to hold the New York City Marathon on Sunday as scheduled, with some New Yorkers complaining that going ahead with the 26.2-mile race would be insensitive and divert city resources at a time when many are suffering.
Four days after Sandy slammed the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the U.S. death toll climbed past 90 in 10 states, and included two boys who were torn from their mother's grasp by rushing floodwaters in Staten Island during the storm. Their bodies were found in a marshy area on Thursday.
Gasoline Scarce
With fuel deliveries in the East disrupted by storm damage and many gas stations lacking electricity to run their pumps, gasoline became a precious commodity, especially for those who depend on their cars for their livelihoods.
Some drivers complained of waiting three and four hours in line, only to see the pumps run out when it was almost their turn. Cars ran out of gas before they reached the front of the line. Police officers were assigned to gas stations to maintain order. In Queens, a man was charged Thursday with flashing a gun at another motorist who complained he was cutting in line.
Photo by The Associated Press
At a Hess gas station Friday morning in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, the line snaked at least 10 blocks through narrow and busy streets. That caused confusion among other drivers, some of whom accidentally found themselves in the gas line. People got out of their cars to yell at them.
In addition, at least 60 people were lined up to fill red gas cans for their generators.
Vince Levine got in line in his van at 5 a.m. By 8 a.m., he was still two dozen cars from the front. "I had a half-tank when I started. I've got a quarter-tank now," he said.
"There's been a little screaming, a little yelling. And I saw one guy banging on the hood of a car. But mostly it's been OK," he said.
Cabdriver Harum Prince joined a line for gasoline in Manhattan that stretched 17 blocks down 10th Avenue, with about half the cars yellow cabs, a crucial means of getting around in a city with a still-crippled mass transit system.
"I don't blame anybody," he said. "God, he knows why he brought this storm."
Many Without Power
More 3.8 million homes and business in the East were still without power, down from a peak of 8.5 million. But across the New York metropolitan area, there were more signs that life was beginning to return to something approaching normal.
Consolidated Edison, the power company serving New York, said electricity should be restored by Saturday to customers in Manhattan and to homes and offices served by underground power lines in Brooklyn. More subway and rail lines started operating again Friday, and the Holland Tunnel into New York was open to buses.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said Atlantic City's 12 casinos could reopen immediately after a nearly five-day shutdown for Superstorm Sandy. Sandy slammed into the shoreline Monday night just a few miles from Atlantic City, which was flooded and lost an old section of its word-famous boardwalk but fared much better than other parts of New Jersey's coast.
The prospect of better times ahead did little to mollify residents who spent another day and night in the dark.
"It's too much. You're in your house. You're freezing," said Geraldine Giordano, 82, a lifelong resident of the West Village. Near her home, city employees had set up a sink where residents could get fresh water, if they needed it. There were few takers. "Nobody wants to drink that water," Giordano said.
Concern About The Elderly
There was increasing worry about the elderly. Community groups have been going door-to-door on the upper floors of darkened Manhattan apartment buildings, and city workers and volunteer in hard-hit Newark, N.J., delivered meals to senior citizens and others stuck in their buildings.
"It's been mostly older folks who aren't able to get out," said Monique George of Manhattan-based Community Voices Heard. "In some cases, they hadn't talked to folks in a few days. They haven't even seen anybody because the neighbors evacuated. They're actually happy that folks are checking, happy to see another person. To not see someone for a few days, in this city, it's kind of weird."
On Thursday, police recovered the bodies of two brothers, ages 2 and 4, who were swept away after the SUV driven by their mother, Glenda Moore, stalled in Sandy's floodwaters Monday evening.
"Terrible, absolutely terrible," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said as he announced that Brandon and Connor had been found dead. "It just compounds all the tragic aspects of this horrific event."
The discovery was another heartbreaking blow to Staten Island, a hard-hit borough that residents complained has been largely forgotten. At least 19 people have been killed in Staten Island, about half the death toll for all of New York City.
Garbage is piling up, a stench hangs in the air and mud-caked mattresses and couches line the streets. Residents picked through their belongings, searching for anything that could be salvaged.
"We have hundreds of people in shelters," said James Molinaro, the borough's president. "Many of them, when the shelters close, have nowhere to go because their homes are destroyed. These are not homeless people. They're homeless now."
Molinaro complained the American Red Cross "is nowhere to be found," and some residents questioned what they called the lack of a response by government disaster relief agencies.

Superstorm Relief Fund Started

A relief fund is being created just for Superstorm Sandy survivors on Staten Island, borough President James Molinaro and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Friday. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a top Federal Emergency Management Agency official planned to tour the island.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday defended the decision to hold the New York Marathon, saying electricity is expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up "an enormous number of police."
"This city is a city where we have to go on," he said.
But Staten Island resident George Rosado blasted the city for the decision.
"It's repulsive," said Rosado, who spent two days scrubbing sludge from his tiled floors and was preparing to demolish the water-logged walls of his home a block from the water. He added: "They should be getting resources to the elderly people who can't fend for themselves. That's more important than a marathon right now."
Along the devastated Jersey Shore, residents were allowed back in their neighborhoods Thursday for the first time since Sandy slammed the coast. Some were relieved to find only minor damage, but many others were wiped out.
"A lot of tears are being shed today," said Dennis Cucci, whose home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach was heavily damaged. "It's absolutely mind-boggling."

Friday, August 24, 2012

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

DNR Boat Patrols Police Lake Lanier

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement operations in the four-county area including Lake Lanier is down to two boats to patrol the entire lake looking for people boating under the influence of alcohol.

Boat Patrols Face Challenges in Policing Lake Lanier

FLOWERY BRANCH — Despite the June deaths of two young boys on the waters Lake Lanier, Sgt. Mike Burgamy did not expect any drop in the number of Fourth of July revelers populating the 37,000-acre reservoir - or in arrests.
As a matter of fact, Burgamy, who oversees the Georgia Department of Natural Resource Law Enforcement operations in a four-county area including Lake Lanier, said that cases of BUI - boating under the influence - are well into the double digits even after the tragedy.
On June 18, brothers Griffin and Jake Prince, 13 and 9 respectively, were killed when a pontoon boat navigated by their father was struck by a fishing boat driven by Paul J. Bennett of Cumming. The 44-year-old salon owner was arrested a day later or boating under the influence and faces a possible charge of homicide by vessel.
Normally Burgamy's patrol force for Lanier has six watercrafts, but this year two boats are in the shop and there's no manpower for two others.
Surrounding counties answered a last-minute call for holiday assistance, with Gwinnett providing a crew for one of the idled boats, Forsyth chipping in two more boats and Hall adding a jet ski and a marine rescue unit equipped with paramedics and divers.
Fourth of July Was Busy
"It gets as busy as an interstate out here. It's only 10 a.m. and it's already getting crowded," Burgamy said Wednesday as he made a quick preliminary tour of a small slice of the lake. "If the weather holds, I'll have made a few arrests before sundown. I'd be willing to bet my dinner on it."
By late afternoon Burgamy said he hadn't made any BUI arrests but had issued a half-dozen lesser citations and responded to numerous complaints from boaters.
Photo by Bob Andres
Policing the estimated 7 million people who visit the lake each year can get overwhelming for the DNR. Last year alone, there were 28 boating-related accidents that resulted in injuries or involved alcohol. In addition to BUI, Burgamy writes up violations for towing a skier without an observer, improper registration or lack of it, expired licenses, inadequate equipment such as too few life vests. His officers have even made a drug bust or two.
Most violations occur around Sunset Cove, a popular docking area that operates a draft house and a tiki bar, Burgamy said. But the partying is not limited to the shore. Boaters also drop anchor in the cove and swim from boat to boat.
"I see them pull out of there just on the borderline of being sober to flat out knee-wobbling drunk," said Burgamy. "We understand that folks want to get on the lake and have fun, but designating a driver could solve so many problems."
Lack of Water Safety Education The Problem
Burgamy said he needs more manpower, but he also said lack of education about water safety is a chronic problem.
"People just don't know the rules of the road. They're amateurs who overestimate their skills behind the wheel of a boat," he said.
While Burgamy sees boaters making mistakes every day, the easiest to correct is letting someone know where they are going. Recently, his phone rang at two a.m. and on the other end was a wife frantically looking for her husband. He didn't know the area and she had no clue where he might be. It turned out he had boat trouble but was all right.
"A simple float plan and a cellphone could've prevented a lot of heartache," he said.