The gas shortages got so bad on Wednesday that Village Manager Steve Williamson was forced to Uber to a speaking engagement and work from home.
The Mobil station on Harbor Drive was out of gas as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, while the Shell station was still open and very busy.
The shortages stem from the record 25 inches of rain that fell on April 12 in Fort Lauderdale – and thus Port Everglades where all of the gasoline is imported for the region.
Shortages started hitting this weekend and have spread from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County. Some stations have certain grades – regular but no premium gasoline or vice versa.
Still, like Key Biscayne’s Mobil, many stations were without gasoline with bags on their pumps or yellow caution tape telling the drivers the bad news.
Williamson, like many, found out the hard way on Tuesday night after a community meeting when he tried to fill up.
“I drove 45 minutes last night looking for gas. No such luck,” Williamson said.
As a result, Williamson took an Uber from his Miami home to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant where he was keynote speaker at the monthly Society of American Military Engineers luncheon.
Lamar Fisher, mayor of Broward County where Port Everglades is located, said on Monday that fuel supply remained steady and that gas shortages would be abated by mid-week, according to a story by CBS Miami. Instead, it has been steadily worsening each day.
The State Emergency Response Team on Tuesday deployed over 500,000 gallons of fuel to Southeast Florida in order to help. In response to the significant flooding in Fort Lauderdale, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency in Broward County.
Joy Oglesby, spokeswoman for Port Everglades, explained the problem is not with the Port – it has drained fairly well and no water got into the tanks or the pipelines. Petroleum distributors whose containment grounds within the Port remain flooded, she said. The terminal is critical to fuel distribution for three counties.
“They are draining their containment areas and assessing so they can properly operate,” Oglesby said.
She said nine of 12 terminals operated by the gas companies were working late Wednesday.
There is another contributing factor, she said: fear. Consumers are filling up even if they have gas, worried the elixir may not be around when they run out of fuel.
“Some people were concerned they wouldn’t have gas to get to work or school or essential errands they had to run,” she said. “They may be filling up or filling up containers.”
The Associated Press reported rumors of the pending shortage started when floods made it difficult for fuel trucks to leave Port Everglades. As a result, it led to panic buying.
Oglesby said motorists are reporting to her that long lines are, in general, abating. She did know of a Fort Lauderdale woman who had to go to Pompano Beach to fill up on Tuesday.
“It’s really hit and miss,” she said.
On Key Biscayne, Vanessa Barba was filling up at the Shell on Wednesday afternoon. She had filled up her other vehicle in the morning.
“I just pulled up and got lucky,” Barba said. “I had a girlfriend who drove all of 8th Street (in Miami) yesterday until she found some.”
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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV. You can reach him at [email protected]