Gas sup­plies flow, but more short­ages pos­si­ble

The Palm Beach Post - - HURRICANE IRMA - By Jeff Ostrowski

Be­fore Hur­ri­cane Irma, gas sta­tions ran out of fuel as fright­ened Florid­i­ans stocked up on petrol. Af­ter the storm, fuel short­ages will shift from neigh­bor­hood sta­tions to a new venue — gas pumps along In­ter­state 95, In­ter­state 75 and Florida’s Turn­pike.

Irma sparked the largest evac­u­a­tion in state his­tory, and now those who fled are re­turn­ing en masse.

“We had al­most 6 mil­lion peo­ple forced to evac­u­ate their homes be­fore Irma, which means we’ll have 6 mil­lion peo­ple com­ing back into the state in the com­ing days,” said James Miller, of the Florida Petroleum Mar­keters and Con­ve­nience Store As­so­ci­a­tion.

The re­verse ex­o­dus is boost­ing de­mand for fuel, while two other fac­tors squeeze sup­ply. First, wide­spread power out­ages mean many gas sta­tions can’t pump gas. Sec­ond, fuel ship­ments into Florida’s ports have been on hold for days.

“Peo­ple aren’t panic-pump­ing any­more,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenk­ins. “But a lot of peo­ple are com­ing back, and that puts a gi­ant strain on sup­ply.”

The re­open­ing of Port Ever­glades, PortMi­ami, Port of Tampa and Port Canaveral al­lowed new ship­ments to ar­rive at gas sta­tions.

“We’re start­ing to reach the point now where we should start to see some re­lief,” Jenk­ins said.

Be­fore Irma made land­fall, Gov. Rick Scott waived some truck­ing reg­u­la­tions and pro­vided po­lice es­corts to petrol trucks. That ex­pe­ri­ence should help ease fuel de­liv­er­ies now, Miller said.

“The ex­ten­sive co­or­di­na­tion we did on the front end with Gover­nor Scott, re­tail­ers and emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials will help with ef­fi­cien­cies post-Irma,” Miller said.

LANNIS WATERS / THE PALM BEACH POST

Cars are backed up Tues­day at the Wawa sta­tion on Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach. Out­ages, re­turn of evac­uees, closed ports add to strain at pump.

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