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New York (AFP) Nov 16, 2012
New York State's attorney general on Friday announced action against gasoline stations that allegedly gouged prices during the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, when fuel shortages reached crisis proportions.
"Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging and we are taking action to send a message that ripping off New Yorkers is against the law," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
"Today's action is the first in a series of steps my office will take as we continue to actively investigate the hundreds of complaints we've received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy."
He issued a list of 13 gas station operators facing legal action.
The law prohibits setting an "unconscionably excessive price" during an "abnormal disruption of the market" and covers food, fuel and hardware merchants, as well as taxi drivers.
Damage to infrastructure by flooding during Sandy, which struck New Jersey and New York on October 29, led to days of severe fuel shortages. Long lines formed at petrol pumps and both states instituted temporary rationing in the worst-hit areas.
New York doctors protest post-Sandy troubles
About 30 health workers gathered outside City Hall to bring attention to what they said were the lack of resources in areas where hospitals, clinics and pharmacies were closed because of flooding.
"I have one message to the mayor: we need you to do everything in your power to get our healthcare infrastructure up and running again. You aren't doing enough," nurse Mary Fitzgerald, from the Montefiore Medical Center, said.
Emergency room doctor Marisa Fernandez, who has been volunteering in the badly damaged Rockaways neighborhood, said, "We're having to recreate an entire healthcare infrastructure from scratch -- everything ranging from assessment and triage of newly housebound individuals, to mobile clinics."
"We need the mayor's office to step in and provide clinics that are up to standard with the rest of the nation, and help us continue our work to rebuild the healthcare infrastructure on the Rockaways," Fernandez said.
Another medic said that closed facilities like the Coney Island Hospital, due for reopening only in January, needed to come back on line more quickly.
"The city needs to make this their number one priority: getting the local clinics and hospitals back open and at full capacity to be able to provide care for their communities," the medic, Shawn Westfahl, said.
Three hospitals were closed during hurricane-strength Sandy, with NYU Langone being evacuated in the middle of the storm. The protesting medical staff said there was currently no level one trauma center left operating in the lower half of Manhattan.
Several groups, including the New York State Nurses Association, which represents 37,000 members, organized the rally.
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