Florida Governor Denies Gas Rationing Plans
Rumors of gas rationing in Florida are false, according Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's office on September 9.
In preparation for the possible landfall of Hurricane Ivan, gas lines in Polk County wrapped around several gas stations Friday afternoon, causing drivers to wait upward of 30 minutes to fill their tanks. Many other local stations have run out of gas.
However, more than 160 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel were at Florida's ports for distribution throughout the state on Thursday evening, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Throughout the next nine days, 22 ships are scheduled to arrive dockside to deliver an additional 160 million gallons of fuel.
Jim Smith, president and CEO of Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said the gas demand was "in good shape until everyone panicked." Smith said because of the high demand it will probably take an additional two to three days to get fuel supplies back to normal. However, if Hurricane Ivan hits the state, residents probably won't see normal levels of gas until Sept. 20 or 21, he said. "You can only load so many trucks at one time," he said. "Trucks are running around the clock."
Smith said there are 1,200 trucks running gasoline to Florida stations. Each truck holds 8,000 gallons of gas and can reload three times a day, for a total of more than 27 million gallons a day. "We have product," he said. "It comes down to a supply and demand. We are supplying four times the normal demand right now.”
Smith said the gas rationing rumors began at a convenience store in Apopka. The store owner was apparently running low on fuel and wanted to make sure his regular customers had gasoline, so he placed a five gallon limit on all his customers. A radio station heard of this and "it just mushroomed from there."
"Polk County is in good shape," said Bob Stanton, director of Polk County Fleet Management. "The county has 280,000 gallons of gas in storage in preparation for Hurricane Ivan. It has been a challenge, but we've had lots of practice with the other two storms." Eight fuel requests to Federal Emergency Management Agency have gone unanswered, Stanton said. The county has received assistance from Smith Brothers Petroleum in Bartow.