That's $8 billion (which I assume is the value in Australian dollars) for all
of the election races. Still way too much though -- couldn't watch a single Youtube video without some damn election commercial.http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/10/2012-election-spending-will-reach-6.html
The "petrol" supplies are being hampered by so much of the fuel delivery infrastructure now being dedicated to providing supplies to the bazillions of generators that are in use. I'd also assume that quite a few service stations were knocked out of service; that's going to put more pressure on those that remain running.
In some situations there are strong labor unions preventing additional help from coming in (New York is very "intense" when it comes to labor unions). Yeah, that sucks.
As for the little old lady being given a blanket and can of beans... you gotta wonder about a person as unprepared as that. That's just not typical. Gas hoarding is not typical but yeah, it happens