New York City rationed petrol as tempers were short, lines were long and panic buying continued more than 10 days after a deadly superstorm stunned the infrastructure of America's largest city.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the shortages could last another two weeks and that only a quarter of the city's petrol stations were open. Some had no power and others could not get fuel from terminals.
"This is designed to let everybody have a fair chance," Mr Bloomberg said of the new system, based on even and odd-numbered registration plates, that lets drivers fill up every other day.
But Mr Bloomberg's estimate was countered by the Energy Department, which said that more than 70% of the city's stations had petrol available for sales.
The queues appeared to shrink yesterday. "It's a lot better," said Manhattan driver Luis Cruz. "A couple of days ago I waited four hours. They should have done this a long time ago."
The line to his garage was just a block and a half long. Before yesterday, some lines stretched for a mile or more.
Superstorm Sandy killed more than 100 people in several states, most of them in New York and New Jersey, and its damage has been estimated at up to 50 billion dollars (£31.4bn), making it the second most expensive storm in US history, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama planned to travel to New York to see recovery efforts and meet affected families, and response teams. He visited New Jersey shortly after Sandy hit, but Mr Bloomberg asked him not come to New York because a presidential visit would complicate recovery efforts in the city.
The Red Cross had raised 117 million dollars (£73.5m) in donations and pledges for relief work across 10 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Salvation Army raised five million dollars (£3m) online and by phone.
Red Cross senior vice president Roger Lowe said it would probably be the charity's largest US effort since Katrina.