Tempers have flared across Long Island over gas shortages that kept customers waiting in hour-long lines to fill a tank to get to work or fill a 5-gallon container to keep a generator going over the past two weeks.
But not in Commack.
As business returns to normal, Commack first responders and residents are expressing their gratitude to a local business for keeping the fuel flowing.
"If we didn't have cooperation from Rudy Massa and his family, knowing and ensuring our guys could get to the fire house, and our guys could get to the ambulance corp, I don't know what would have happened," said Pat Fazio, commissioner of the Commack Fire District.
Fazio said at the first signs of a gas shortage was about to strike Long Island, he received a crucial phone call from Rudy Massa, owner of Gasoline Heaven on Jericho Turnpike.
"Rudy was the first one to call me and ask 'How are you guys holding out?' and I said to him 'It's probably going to be a big of a problem'," Fazio said. "Rudy told me, 'Not as long as I'm around'."
Massa said it was his personal experience running Gasoline Heaven during the gas shortages of 1973 and 1979 that lead him to contact Commack Fire Department and Commack Ambulance Corp.
"I remembered and thought they might have problems getting fuel," he said.
He reached out to Gulf Corp. to explain the gas shortage on Long Island, and his personal commitment to making sure local first responders, doctors, nurses and other critical personnel had enough gas in their car's tank to be able to respond to emergencies.
Gulf responded, Massa said, by making sure to get him as many tanker deliveries as possible.
During the gas shortage, Gasoline Heaven set up two lines for gas can fill ups, a line for gasoline fill ups, a separate line for diesel fill ups and one line exclusively for first responders.
"Our fire and ambulance personnel were able to fill up just their personal car to get to the fire house, and he made sure our vehicles had fuel," Fazio said.
This was critical when Commack Fire Department responded to a house fire in which gas vapors from a generator caught a spark, seriously burning a Commack woman on Nov. 5.
As for Massa, he said the gas shortage caused by Hurricane Sandy was worse than the previous shortages in 1973 and 1979.
"This is worse because there are more cars on the road and there are more people. It's been very stressful for the public," Massa said.
Commack residents thanked Gasoline Heaven to keeping a steady supply of gas in time of need.
"Gasoline Heaven has been the best. Might be a long line but it moves so fast. They have had Gas everyday.Thank you Rudy and Rocky you run an organized establishment," Helen wrote in an e-mail on Nov.8 to Commack Patch.
Patch Blogger Heidi also commended the Massa family for keeping the gas flowing in Commack.
"I have to give a quick thumbs up, hats off, high five and major kudos to Gasoline Heaven in Commack. They have been fantastic in keeping long lines moving, staying organized and getting consistent gas deliveries. Even if the lines are long they will send someone to each and every car if gas should run dry with next estimated delivery so you're not finding out when you get to the pump," she wrote.
As for Massa, he gave the credit to his employees, many college students, for working with him through the agas shortages and coming to work on a moment's notice.
"My staff come to work, pumping gas to make a living while going to work. I call you and tell you to come in two hours, three hours later we're out of gas and I'm sending you home," he said.
Their willingness to work erratic hours, keep order and calm the tempers of those waiting in long lines for gas kept things flowing smoothly.
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