There's federal grant money still available to outfit gas stations along New Jersey's evacuation routes with back-up generators and quick-connects to keep them operating during a major disaster. 

Hess station in Sayreville (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $7 million last year to create the voluntary Retail Fuel Station program to avoid situations like those after Superstorm Sandy in which people waited in line for hours to get fuel at a limited number of gas stations that were functioning following the hurricane.

Timothy Lizura, president and COO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the agency overseeing the program, says so far 62 gas stations have been awarded about $4.6 million.

"We're going back out to the community and broadening our pool of stations. We want to deploy as much of this capital as we can, and reduce the minimum thresh hold a little bit, so that we can capture that next tranche of stations and try to get as much capacity in New Jersey for when and if we have this kind of widespread power outage again that at least the gas station community will be able to provide its services," Lizura said.

When the vast majority of the power grid goes down and gas stations don't have back-up generators, it impacts the state's economy and its residents, according to Lizura.

The program previously was limited to stations in close proximity to evacuation routes with minimum gasoline storage capacity of 30,000 gallons. In January, the application process was reopened and expanded to include more stations. Under the revised guidelines, all retail stations in New Jersey that sell diesel fuel and meet minimum gasoline storage criteria, are eligible to apply. Stations with gasoline storage capacity between 18,000 and 35,000 gallons can apply for quick-connect grants up to $15,000. Stations with gasoline storage capacity of greater than 35,000 are eligible for permanent generator grants up to $65,000.

Retailers would have to pay the installation fees up front and once the work is completed they would be reimbursed, according to Lizura.

The application deadline is March 31. Priority will be provided to stations located near a bridge or tunnel and stations that fuel county emergency vehicles.

Online applications are available at www.njeda.com/generators, by calling the New Jersey Business Action Center at 1-866-534-7789, or emailing generators@njeda.com.