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Pre-emptive buying in Florida causes fuel shortages ahead of Irma

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As Hurricane Irma, now one of the most powerful hurricanes to come out of the Atlantic in 80 years, wreaks havoc in the Caribbean islands, Florida residents are preparing for the worst. Unfortunately, the trajectory of the category 5 storm is still uncertain.

This has caused extra strain on the state’s gas supply as preppers all over the state rush to fill their tanks. In most cases forecasters know what area is likely to be effected which allows fuel distributors to compensate for the extra demand.

“You basically had people in all 67 counties rushing out to get gas, food, and water.” James Miller, Director of communications for the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, commented.

Florida Governor Rick Scott implored all evacuees to only take as much as was needed to get to safety. In a Wednesday news conference, he stated “One of our top priorities right now is fuel availability.” Later adding “We are doing all that we can to streamline fuel delivery.”

Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, reported that the state government has received more than 1,500 calls reporting price-gouging of food, water, and gas over the last two days.

Although the Sunshine State has one-week worth of emergency fuel in reserves in the event of road and port closures, many distributors in the state had already redirected supplies to Texas to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Irma is most likely to remain at Category 4 or 5 strengths for the next 24-48 hours according to the National Hurricane Center. It’s expected to reach the Florida Keys sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Until Irma’s path and exact strength becomes clear, shortages are expected to continue. Long term shortages may be possible if there is significant damage to Florida’s ports or refineries along the gulf coast where the state receives most of its fuel.

Unfortunately for Floridians, gas prices are up, still recovering from Hurricane Harvey which caused a spike in whole sale prices nationwide. Gas in Florida averaged $2.71 a gallon on Wednesday, up .36 cents since last week.

Article written by Kevin Abbott.

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