DeSantis declares state of emergency due to halted US fuel pipeline operations

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A warning sign is posted along the path of the Colonial Pipeline in Garnet Valley, Pa., Monday, May 10, 2021. Gasoline futures are ticking higher following a cyberextortion attempt on the Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. pipeline that carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Tuesday due to recently halted operations of a major U.S. fuel pipeline after its computer system was the target of a cyberattack.

According to the governor’s executive order, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management will be designated as the state coordinating officer during this emergency. The governor has directed him to execute the state’s “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan” and other response, recovery and mitigation plans to handle the emergency.

MORE: Executive Order 21-105

The Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline is responsible for transporting a substantial percentage of all fuel consumed on the East Coast of the United States, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products.

Gas stations were running out of fuel in Southwest Florida Tuesday after many learned about the declaration.

Long-term, the executive order frees up resources and gets rid of the red tape to make sure Florida gets gas.

AAA says most of Florida’s fuel is delivered from Gulf Coast refineries, so the state should be good on gas, and people don’t need to rush to the pump.

Still, worry began for some of those we spoke to.

“It’s nerve-racking because this is my baby,” Jahiem Chatman said. “Like poof, I need my car to go everywhere.”

“It’s always going to be a panic,” Barbara Melvin said. “More people are going to start going, ‘Oh, my God, let me go get gas because it is going to be a panic, so I’m gassing up, and I will be driving less just to make sure.”

Melvin made sure she got gas before she hit the road home, filling up sooner than she normally would.

“I’m going to gas up as often as I can knowing that there’s a shortage,” Melvin said. “I’m going to gas up as much as I can. Unfortunately, things are happening. It is scary.”

Gas station employees began putting up signs at around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, letting drivers know they only have regular for the time being.

“It’s crazy that it’s happening,” Codi Browne said. “Right now, I’m seeing a lot of people are going to rush to get gas.”

The governor’s state of emergency suspends registration requirements for trucks bringing gas and waives their size and weight restrictions on cars and trucks that are helping emergency relief efforts.

It also activates the national guard if needed, but Southwest Florida drivers have their fingers crossed that won’t be necessary and the emergency order ends soon.

“I’m hoping. It should. It better,” Browne said.

We reached the governor’s office Tuesday about why a state of emergency was declared if a lot of our fuel is delivered from Gulf Coast refineries, but we did not hear back in time for air or online publication.

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