Those living in the states hit the hardest by Superstorm Sandy suffered long lines as they frantically tried to fuel up Thursday while Carolina residents took advantage of lower gas prices in much calmer conditions.


According to a press release from AAA Carolinas, for the first time in 77 days, South Carolinians are paying less at the pump than they did a year ago. The state has the second-lowest average gas prices in the nation, according to a press release. The national average is $3.51, and Missouri has the cheapest at $3.15 a gallon.


“This is great news for drivers,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “As gas prices continue to fall, families can expect to save more money at the pump for the upcoming holiday season.”


With gas prices seen as low as $2.99 in Clearwater, the average in the state Thursday was $3.20 for regular, according to the AAA Carolinas.


In some of the metro areas, the prices are a bit higher, with Charleston residents paying $3.36, which is 12 cents more than a year ago. On the other side of the spectrum, Myrtle Beach is seeing prices 13 cents less than this time last year.


But on average, South Carolinians are paying two cents less than they were this time last year, according to the press release.


The release read that the cost of gas went down due to the fact that crude oil prices dropped, the U.S. dollar is somewhat stronger and the demand for fuel has dropped with the summer driving season over.


Sandy isn't expected to affect the prices in South Carolina, which gets 90 percent of its oil from the Gulf Coast.


In the Northeastern portion of the country that was devastated by Sandy, residents faced long lines at gas stations that still had both electricity and supplies.


A police officer directed traffic at a Gulf station in Newark, N.J., as a line of vehicles stretched for about two miles. Dozens of people with empty red gas canisters also stood in the line that snaked around the station.


Betty Bethea, 59, had been waiting almost three hours as she approached the front of the line of cars, and she brought reinforcements: Her kids were there with gas cans, and her husband was behind her in his truck.


“It is crazy out here – people scrambling everywhere, cutting in front of people. I have never seen New Jersey like this,” Bethea said.


Two factors are to blame for the shortages and the runs on gas, according to AAA spokeswoman Tracy Noble.


Many stations just can't pump gas because they lack power, she said. And fuel trucks are having trouble getting around, causing gas shortages in many parts of the state.


In Pennsylvania, in towns near and along the state line with New Jersey, long lines of mostly vehicles with New Jersey license plates were queuing up, as well.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.