Florida hit with gas shortage after severe weather, panic buying


(MIAMI) — Weather-related delays and panic-buying have led to a gas shortage in South Florida.

Over 55% of gas stations in Miami/Fort Lauderdale and over 34% of gas stations in West Palm Beach were without fuel as of Thursday morning, according to GasBuddy, a gas-tracking database.

“We ask that you please only purchase gas when you absolutely need it,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at a news conference Wednesday morning outside a Shell gas station. “Overly stocking up on gas is creating an extra strain on the delivery system. In other words, there’s no need to panic.”

The shortage in Port Everglades, where only nine of 12 gas terminals were working as of Thursday morning, is causing strain on the Fort Lauderdale region. Some of the fuel terminals at the port, which are privately owned and operated, were impacted by the Apr. 12 flooding in South Florida. The port is currently 70% operational and dispenses 9.1 million gallons of fuel daily, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Meanwhile, additional gas reserves are being sent to address the issue. At the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is sending a million gallons of fuel to South Florida, escorted by law enforcement and pulling fuel from Port Canaveral and Tampa. Companies are also sending additional fuel supplies from across the state and delivering to gas stations around the clock.

Most of the outages were due to panic buying and not the weather, GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said.

“It’s very much similar to the Colonial Pipeline and the toilet paper run in 2020,” he said. “People see something abnormal — lines and bags at gas stations — and it’s the fear of missing out on the supply of gasoline. Everyone fills everything up.”

In a video posted to Twitter, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the situation “crazy.”

“They keep saying it’s going to get better but it’s not,” the Republican said. “They got to get this thing fixed. This is crazy.”

Both Democrats and allies of former President Donald Trump have criticized DeSantis’ response as inadequate.

“Remember when Florida governors used to respond to natural disasters and not flee the state?” Nikki Fried, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party and a former gubernatorial candidate, tweeted Wednesday.

DeSantis held an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Jason Miller, a senior advisor to Trump, shared a Newsweek article headlined “Ron DeSantis Under Pressure Over Florida Gas Shortage: ‘Where is He?"”

DeSantis’ office hit back at the criticism, telling ABC News that “the state emergency response apparatus has been at work since the flooding occurred and continues in full swing responding to the needs of the localities as they are communicated to us.”

“The governor issued a state of emergency the day after the flooding occurred. And since then, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management has been activated to alleviate gas supply issues and ensure that no obstacles from the state keep companies in south Florida from keeping gas pumps stocked,” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, continued in a statement to ABC News.

The American Automobile Association estimates that it will take about a week for the issue to clear up.

ABC News’ Jay O’Brien contributed to this report.

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