As more pumps run dry, NC officials urge drivers not to refuel unless necessary :: – fr

As more pumps run dry, NC officials urge drivers not to refuel unless necessary :: – fr

– Panicked drivers lined up at gas stations in the area for a second day on Wednesday, trying to fill their tanks with a limited supply of gas as a large interstate pipeline went offline.

The Colonial pipeline, which supplies about 40% of the East Coast’s gas and almost all of the supply to eastern North Carolina, has been shut down since last weekend following a cyber attack. Company officials said Wednesday evening they had restarted operations and expect the supply chain to return to normal in “several days.”

“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience or continue to experience intermittent service disruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will safely transport as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so until markets return. to normal, ”the company said in a statement.

Online site reported that more than two-thirds of North Carolina gas stations reported running out of fuel Wednesday afternoon – by far the biggest impact in the Southeast. Virginia was 49 percent of empty stations, while Georgia and South Carolina were 45 percent each.

On Wednesday morning, GasBuddy reported that 72% of stations in the Raleigh area had no gas available.

Claudia Franco said she searched for gas for two days before being able to refuel on Wednesday at a station on Western Boulevard in Raleigh, where people lined up for an hour.

“All the gas stations are empty. I went to Knightdale, then to Raleigh, ”Franco said. “I’m lucky to have found this. I was very, very worried. “

A second station on Western Boulevard received a cargo of gasoline around midnight, and people lined up to refuel at 3 a.m., including delivery drivers and police. At 6 a.m., the station was out of gas.

Lines of cars winding through parking lots or sprawling through the streets were common sights at train stations on Wednesday.

Like Franco, Bill Morrissey called Wednesday “pure luck” to find a working gas pump.

Morrissey works for Charlotte-based Warco Construction and his team is working on a project in Raleigh. He wanted to make sure they had enough gasoline to get home.

“We have to get fuel, baby, ”he said,“ so that they have enough fuel to go back to their families. “

Governor Roy Cooper pleaded with people not to buy gasoline unless absolutely necessary.

“The shortages we’re seeing are pretty much all about panic buying people, and I want to encourage people not to do that. Don’t fill up your car unless you have to. Don’t fill your car. Cooper said during a stopover Wednesday morning in Durham. “It’s not a supply issue. “

Duke University professor Dan Ariely said such messages are lost amid pictures and anecdotes of long gas lines.

“We have a bit of fear increased by what we see, then we get more stressed, then we get more gas,” said Ariely, who studies people’s economic behavior and what makes them tick.

“No more someone says” Don’t panic, buy! Don’t panic, buy! “They think,” Maybe this is a bigger problem than I thought, “” he said. “It is very difficult to trust the goodwill of people. It is very difficult to create a message that does not increase the excitement. “

Instead, Ariely said, the governor should give residents of the state certain rules to follow, such as carpooling or using public transportation to save gas or to refuel only if you are. are below half a tank.

“We could say something like, ‘Sorry, this is an emergency. We limit that to 10 gallons per person, ”he said.

Although some stations limit the amount of gas customers can buy, Cooper said he has no plans to implement gas rationing in North Carolina.

“We hope the people of North Carolina will do the right thing,” he said. “We are working with local gas stations to make sure public safety, that there is dedicated public safety fuel throughout the state. “

Fred Lee, owner of TR Lee & Gas in Clayton, said he pumped gasoline for people and stopped when they hit $ 15.

« [We’re] try to let two or three days go by instead of just one day on and off, ”Lee said.

But the station was still sold out on Wednesday afternoon.

Some people, in addition to refueling their cars, were also seen at various stations filling multiple cans in their trunks on Wednesday.

“You have inconsiderate people. They don’t take into consideration that everyone needs gas, ”said Anthony McNeill, of Raleigh, who said the governor should limit people’s gas purchases.

Lee said the only other time he could remember such a fueling frenzy was during the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s.

“They were lined up at a red light. We had a shortage then, ”he said.

The governor declared a state of emergency on Monday following the pipeline shutdown, easing rules for tanker operators to help boost gasoline supplies statewide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also issued a waiver for North Carolina and 11 other states on Tuesday to temporarily allow substandard fuel on the market, which would also increase available supplies.

Nationally, the average price of gasoline has jumped to $ 3 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, according to the AAA tracker. This is the first time the price has been at this mark since 2014. Raleigh’s average price came in at $ 2.85 on AAA, an increase of 7 cents from Tuesday and 17 cents from a year ago. one week.

Attorney General Josh Stein said his office had received around 300 complaints of price fraud by gas stations – Cooper’s emergency declaration also put the state’s predatory pricing law into effect – since Tuesday. Stations are allowed to raise prices if their costs have increased to bring in more gas, he said.

“What we don’t want to see if gas stations take advantage of people’s desperation and increase their prices unjustifiably on the basis of inventory they’ve already paid for,” said Stein.

People can report suspected price abuse to the Attorney General’s office at 877-5-NO-SCAM.

Stein echoed Cooper in urging people not to build up gas, saying the gas “crisis” was self-created by people filling up when they didn’t need it.

“If you have enough [gas] for the next few days of your life just don’t go to the gas station, ”he said, comparing the situation to the toilet paper shortage during the early days of the pandemic last year.

Much of the Colonial pipeline resumed manual operations late Monday. Colonial had delivered about 967,000 barrels of gasoline, containing about 41 million gallons, to markets like Charlotte and Greensboro on Tuesday night.

One of the busiest collection points for fuel dispensers along the 5,500-mile pipeline is in Selma, where there was a flurry of activity Wednesday morning.

WRAL reporters Kacey Cunningham and Nia Harden and WRAL presenter / reporter Renee Chou contributed to this story.


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