Drivers frustrated, but gas to stay in short supply with ports closed
‘Chaos’ plays out at Boynton station, one of few to open.
Filling up the gas tank proved challenging last week as Hurricane Irma closed in on South Florida.
Doing so on Monday after the storm finished pummeling Palm Beach County was nearly impossible.
With most gas stations out of power, only a very few running on generators were able to provide fuel.
One of those was the Shell station in Boynton Beach at the intersection of Gateway Boulevard and Federal Highway. Store owner Steve Marouf opened for business at 11 a.m. and it only took a short time for a line to form at each of his four pumps.
“It’s chaos,” said Marouf, who kept a cheery disposition despite having to arbitrate the occasional disputes between impatient motorists.
Millions of Floridians fleeing from Irma’s path led to huge surges in demand for gas, causing supplies to run out at many stations. Now, in the wake of the storm, those stations are still waiting to be resupplied.
With ports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa shut down before the storm and still closed Monday, it could be weeks before gas supplies return to normal, according to AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins.
“Until those ports are open, there are not going to be any major deliveries,” Jenkins said. “And until that happens, you’re kind of stuck with the supply on hand. It’s kind of a waiting game.”
At the 7-Eleven at Jog Road and Boynton Beach Boulevard, drivers looking for gas were fooled by the line of cars belonging to people buying food.
Jason Stern said he had been driving his Mazda compact around looking for fuel with no luck.
“I have another car at home with a full tank but this one is one empty,” Stern said. “I’m just going home and switch cars, but what are these people doing here?”
Another driver angrily pulled out of a long line near Boynton Beach Boulevard and Congress Avenue after being informed that it wasn’t gas people were waiting to buy.
“It’s a freakin’ Dunkin’ Donuts?” the man said after realizing his mistake.
At a Chevron at Wellington Trace and Greenview Shores, about a dozen vehicles packed into the station.
Most customers were filling red fuel tanks for generators. Alia Cava of Wellington said she and a friend drove from Loxahatchee, where they spent the storm, and the Chevron was the first station they found that had any fuel.
“There was no gas in Loxahatchee,” Cava said Monday, “and we need to fill up to keep running the generator. We’ve been out of power since 6:30 yesterday morning. It’s so hot.”
Marouf opened his Boynton Beach station for business late Monday morning and within little more than an hour, his starting supply of 2,000 gallons of gasoline was down to about 1,500 gallons. With news that the ports would be closed through Sept. 18, Marouf said he decided to limit customers to $30 of fuel.
“We want to help as many people in the community as possible,” Marouf said. “People are OK with that.”