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There Is No Gas Shortage In South Florida, Panic Buying Led To Long Lines At Gas Stations

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) - With news that a major gas supply line to the east coast was shut down due to a cyberattack, many drivers in South Florida decided now was the time to top off the tank before fuel runs out.

Long lines have formed at some stations and rumors have spread on social media and by word of mouth about possible shortages.

The thing is, Florida's supply is not affected by the Colonial Pipeline closure, since most of state's fuel is delivered by ship, according to AAA.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava posted on Twitter that we have nothing to worry about.

Reminder: South Florida receives gasoline from @PortEverglades, not the #ColonialPipeline. No one should worry as federal, state, and local leaders are coordinating to ensure we continue to have a strong supply of gasoline.

Port Everglades posted on Twitter that South Florida's gas supply is expected to remain consistent.

"Our fuel supply has not been impacted by the #ColonialPipeline ransomware incident. Schedule for inbound fuel ships looks strong. We are monitoring the possibility that ships may be diverted to assist other regions, but SoFla supply is expected to remain consistent."

"Right now, we are at 35 to 45% capacity in our tanks, which taken into consideration the pandemic. That's right at our typical level," said Port Everglades Director Jonathan Daniels. "And we are going to see a little bit of a stronger schedule in the next week, so that is good and should allay some fears."

Yet, people are not hearing that message, and it is having an impact on some gas stations.

A Shell gas station worker told CBS4 that his boss told him they may run out.

"We will be open for other things, but people need fuel to get to work," said Al Sanchez.

Rumors about gas shortages have led to panic buying and AAA said that is the biggest threat to supply.

"This is not a refinery issue. Gasoline is still being made and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether Colonial Pipeline is operational," said AAA's Mark Jenkins continued. "Florida is said to have access to plenty of gasoline. It's now just a matter of getting the fuel where it's needed, primarily those gas stations that are being tapped out due to panic buying."

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office has set up a hotline where residents can report possible price gouging. That number is (305) 547-3300.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, whose office oversees gas stations, says at the moment Florida is fine.

Consumers can prevent strain on fuel supplies by not panic-buying gas, not hoarding gas, and not forming long lines at gas stations, and fuel continues to flow around Florida," she said in a statement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of Emergency Tuesday, in light of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. The pipeline delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

"This pipeline doesn't actually touch Florida, but it does feed into many of our gas stations, so we've declared a state of emergency. We started lifting restrictions to be able to get more fuel into pumps," he said on Fox News.

The State of Emergency enables fuel trucks to carry more gasoline (between 500 and 1,000 gallons more) and spend more time on the roads making deliveries. Additionally, the EPA has granted a waiver that strengthens Florida's fuel access, by allowing the sale of both winter and summer blend gasoline. What this means is more gasoline being delivered to neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced additional help for 10 states affected by the cyberattack – Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Experts and officials have pleaded with Americans not to hoard gasoline in the wake of the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

"Panic buying of gas right now will create an artificial demand that will make all of this much worse," said AAA spokesman Moran Dean.

Yet US gasoline demand climbed by 14% on Tuesday compared with the week before, according to GasBuddy. At midnight on Wednesday, GasBuddy reported that nearly 1,800 gas stations were out of gasoline in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.

Colonial has restarted the pipeline, but added "it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal."

(©2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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