Driv­ers frus­trated, but gas to stay in short sup­ply with ports closed

‘Chaos’ plays out at Boyn­ton sta­tion, one of few to open.

The Palm Beach Post - - HURRICANE IRMA - By Jorge Mil­ian

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.”

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