Gas shortage continues in areas hit by Sandy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Many of the gas stations in the New York City region were still out of commission Friday due to the effects of Superstorm Sandy, and long lines continued to form at the stations that are still operational.

Millions of people were still without power from the fatal storm that made landfall on the Jersey Shore and plowed through the Northeast on Monday. This has affected gas stations, which cannot pump gas without electricity.

Only 40% of the 2,944 gas stations tracked by AAA in New Jersey have power and are operational, according to Robert Sinclair, New York spokesman for the motorist group. He said only 35% of the 1,472 gas stations tracked by AAA on New York's Long Island are operational.

Gas stations that still have power and gas are marked by long lines of cars -- and also pedestrians with jerry cans to keep running the generators that power their homes. New Jersey residents have told CNNMoney that the elderly and very young are especially dependent on generator gas for heat. Sometimes long lines form only to be turn away after the stations run out of gas.

"I was down in Sayreville four cars away when they ran out of gas as people walked away with a bunch of full canisters," a physical therapist told CNNMoney on Thursday.

Some lines in New Jersey stretch for miles, with police officers on hand to maintain order, using yellow tape and traffic cones to corral customers into organized lines.

Most major gas station chains, from Exxon Mobil Corp to Hess Corp, are experiencing disruptions. Supply problems stem from closed refineries as well as infrastructure issues with the ports and also fuel trucks stymied on the crowded highways. A pipeline supplying gas from the Gulf of Mexico was out of commission from power loss, but was expected to be back on line Friday.

Matt Smith, analyst for Summit Energy Services, said gas shortages could stretch "though the weekend and into the next."

AAA did not have data for New York City, though large swaths of the city were still without power on Friday. The skyline of lower Manhattan, from 42nd Street all the way down to the southern tip of the island, has gone dark, and residents and businesses are struggling.

Most of the subway system is not functioning because of power loss and flooding, placing further pressure on the gas supply because fewer people are using public transportation.

Other sections of the city -- including Staten Island, Queens and coastal sections of Brooklyn such as Coney Island -- were without power and many homes have been destroyed by high winds, fires and floods. Coastal sections of New Jersey -- particularly Seaside Heights and Atlantic City -- bore the brunt of the catastrophe. Sections of Connecticut are also in the dark.

Gas prices continued their downward slide nationwide, declining 1.1 cents to an average of just below $3.50 per gallon of regular unleaded. Gas prices usually decline in the fall, as demand drops off following the busy summer vacation season.

But prices in the storm-affected areas were on the rise. The statewide average for New Jersey rose 1.1 cents to $3.557 for a gallon of regular gas, according to AAA. The increases were most pronounced in the Bergen-Passaic area near Manhattan and the Monmouth-Ocean area of the Jersey Shore, where the price rose 1.6 cents a gallon

New York's gas prices edged up by less than 1 cent statewide to $3.935 per gallon, said AAA. Prices rose 1.2 cents in New York City to a citywide average of $3.999 and rose less than 1 cent on Long Island to $3.965.