Skip to comments.Panhandle getting more gas, but motorists face lines, limits
Posted on 09/03/2005 8:50:03 PM PDT by snowsislander
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - Michelle Drogg's gas tank was still three-quarters full but she waited about 30 minutes in line to top it off Friday at one of the few gasoline stations that had fuel available on Pensacola's north side.
"I don't want to be out of gas," said the 23-year-old University of West Florida student from Fort Walton Beach, but she added, "I'm thinking about getting a bicycle."
Although officials from Gov. Jeb Bush on down have urged Floridians to conserve and not hoard gas, Drogg made no apologies for topping off, saying "Everybody is."
More fuel was flowing into the Florida Panhandle five days after Hurricane Katrina disrupted supplies and production, but many stations remained closed and motorists faced lines, although shorter than they had been earlier in the week, and limitations.
A barge filled with 1.3 million gallons of gasoline and 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel arrived Thursday night at Pensacola's lone marine storage terminal. A similar delivery was expected over the weekend, said Bill Dickson, chairman of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners. Normally such shipments arrive only once every five days.
Statewide, 184 million gallons of fuel were in Florida ports as of Friday _ normally an eight-day supply _ with more expected soon, but shortages remained most acute in the Panhandle, said Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Cragin Mosteller.
Sixty percent of stations along Interstate 10 in the Panhandle were out of fuel, and even more stations had no gas farther away because priority was being given to keeping those along the highway supplied, she said.
AAA Auto Club South reported fuel readily available in almost every Florida market except Pensacola and Panama City, both in the Panhandle, and Naples in southwest Florida. Long lines were reported at Fort Myers.
Topping off and other "panic buying" are major contributors to shortages, according to AAA. The group advises motorists not to fill up if they have more than half a tank, and to start looking fuel when they only have half a tank left.
"If we can encourage consumers to purchase fuel as they normally would and to adopt simple conservation tools, that combination will ensure that the state has the supplies that it needs," Mosteller said.
A Tallahassee station restricted purchases to $33 per customer. At a Marianna truck stop, Randy Swank, who was hauling a load of plastic goods from Pensacola to Savannah, Ga., complained about a 50-gallon limit on diesel fuel at some stations.
"These trucks hold 300 gallons," said the Nashville, Tenn., area trucker. "How far is 50 gallons going to get you on a truck that gets 5 miles to the gallon? That don't do us a bit of good at all."
Another trucker who had stopped in Marianna, Anna Maria Simpson, of Lawton, Okla., said she was lucky to find any fuel while hauling a load of toilet paper from Baton Rouge, La., to various destinations in Florida. She had to make several fuel-consuming detours to avoid some the hardest hit areas along the Gulf Coast.
"One stop after another, they're out of fuel," she said. "You just pray."
Simpson said she was too nervous, as a woman driving alone, to stop along the road to get some sleep. Her biggest worry, though, wasn't about being assaulted or robbed of money.
"I'm afraid someone's going to start trying to steal my fuel," she said.
Some people from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been driving to Pensacola to take gasoline back in everything from five-gallon gas cans to 55-gallon drums, adding to the demand here.
While college student Drogg said she had to have gas to make a daily half-hour drive to an elementary school where she helps with an after-school program, Tanya Weaver had a more desperate need.
The 45-year-old homemaker, unable to find a hotel room in Pensacola, waited in the same line to full up her sport utility vehicle, which was down to a quarter-tank, so she could get back to what's left of her home in storm-ravaged Gulfport, Miss.
She and her family tried to ride out the storm there but swam to a neighbor's house in the middle of the hurricane when Katrina's storm surge started flooding their home.
After salvaging what they could _ mainly clothing _ when the water receded, she came to Pensacola, where she has family, a couple days ago. Her husband, whose mechanical contracting business also was flooded, stayed behind.
"I just need gas so I can get home," Weaver said near tears. "I saw the line and jumped in it because I can't go anywhere without the gas."
I waited 4 hours today.....didnt want to but had to
Uh...about 250 miles I'd say!
Sheesh. This is exactly why prices *need* to rise a *lot* in circumstances like these.
From what little I have observed (and it certainly may not be representative), I am seeing long lines particularly in stretches where there are a high concentration of stations that are empty, which certainly seems natural since anybody who needs gasoline will be able to choose from among far fewer stations.
Also, for what it is worth, I am seeing much shorter lines (if any) at stations where only premium is being sold.
Bad news..... some of our stations are out of gas.
Good news....The price has dropped from $3.89 to $2.99 in the last day.
Most of our stations are out, but you can get gas without too much of a wait. Plenty of people are gasing up and filling gas can to go back into the affected area and that certainly is affecting our gas situation.
I had to panhandle for gas once. My fuel gage wasn't working, I think was a fuse, and I had misunderestimated the amount I had in the tank. I was miles from a station and didn't have any cash on me. Fortunately it worked out and I was able to get enough to make it to the next town.
I waited for 2 hours today by UWF. Don't know how many stations will have gas tomorrow.