Meanwhile, fuel shortages have already cropped up in Florida.
“What you’re seeing is a somewhat unique situation here in Florida with sporadic gas shortages,” James Miller, communications director for the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association (FPMA), Tallahassee, Fla., told CSP Daily News.
Usually when a hurricane is heading toward Florida, residents know ahead of time which region of the state it will likely hit, whether that’s South Florida, Tampa, Jacksonville, the Panhandle or other areas. This helps the fuel-supply infrastructure focus resources.
“Because there was so much uncertainty over [Hurricane Irma] in terms of exactly where it was headed, you basically had people in all 67 Florida counties acting as if the storm was headed their way and loading up on gas, water and food,” he said. “As a result, you’re seeing sporadic shortages in all areas of the state instead of region-specific.”
This in turn is creating logistical challenges for FPMA’s members, who are scrambling to transport gasoline to all areas that are short of fuel. This is done through trucks and tankers.
“As long as the ports remain open and the roads and bridges remain passable, then we’ll continue to restock stores with fuel,” he said. “Once Irma makes landfall, then we will pause any refueling until it has passed and it’s safe again.”
FPMA has been working with its members and local, state and federal authorities for the past week to plan for as smooth and streamlined of a re-entry after the storm as possible, “and that any resources, employees, etc. are permitted back into those regions to open up convenience and grocery stores that local residents rely on,” he said.