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FEMA Fuel AWOL For Sandy Survivors

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FEMA FUEL
As temperatures begin to drop, people wait in line to fill containers with gas at a Shell gasoline filling station on Thursday, Nov. 1, in Keyport, N.J.(AP Photo/Mel Evans) | AP
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WASHINGTON -- After superstorm Sandy receded, the Federal Emergency Management Agency contracted for 24 million gallons of fuel, and has sent 230 fuel trucks into New York and New Jersey to be distributed at National Guard armories.

But why fuel shortages still exist is a mystery -- and not just to furious motorists. Never mind filling up -- just getting a couple of gallons is proving to be an ordeal even six days after the storm.

At FEMA headquarters in Washington, spokeswoman Elaine Kelley said the agency could not say where the fuel has gone, and directed inquiries to the Defense Logistics Agency, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.

A spokesman for the DLA, Douglas Ide, told The Huffington Post Sunday that the agency is delivering FEMA fuel to National Guard armories in Freehold, West Orange, Teaneck, Jersey City and Plainfield, N.J., and to armories in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx and Freeport in New York. The DLA contractor is Foster Fuels of Brookneal, Va., where an operator who answered the phone Sunday said she had no information about emergency fuel shipments and that no one else was working at headquarters on a Sunday.

In New York, premature announcements that free fuel would be available apparently caused an explosion of demand that on Saturday morning quickly drained those fuel trucks that did arrive. No fuel ever did get to the Freeport armory. At each of the three others, a pair of fuel trucks arrived with more than 10,000 gallons. But those fuel points were jammed with thousands of people spurred by public reports that free gas would be available, and the fuel ran out.

Eric Durr, a spokesman for the New York National Guard, said Sunday that the Guard is out of gas and waiting for more FEMA fuel deliveries.

In New Jersey, the National Guard is not providing gas to the public, but is using 17 HEMTT trucks to deliver gas to firemen, police and other first responders.

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The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

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