Panic-buying leads to long lines at some SWFL gas stations

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Some gas stations are running out of regular-grade gasoline. (Credit: WINK News)

From Charlotte to Lee to Collier, long lines of cars and yellow bags on pumps could be seen Wednesday as people filled up their tanks, afraid a gas shortage is on the way due to a pipeline shutdown.

It’s a sight familiar to those who have lived in Southwest Florida during hurricane season, but this time, officials say there is no reason to stock up on fuel – unless, of course, you need it.

But if you do need to fill up, bring some patience with you. Gas stations are busy, and you should take just what you need to top off your tank. It’s important to remember the pipeline that was hacked doesn’t supply much of our fuel here in Southwest Florida.

Colonial said service was restarted at 5 p.m. Wednesday, but it may take a few days for the supply line to get back to normal.

Some drivers in Cape Coral were greeted with lines and ‘out of service’ signs at stations when they tried to gas up.

“It’s getting scary already,” said John Powell.

“Oh, gas station to gas station. The four of them around my house, no gas,” said Nicolette Aiken.

The gasoline games are on in Cape Coral.

“It’s crazy. This is the third store I had to come to. People are panicking for no reason,” said Micheal Troy.

Many gas stations ran out of regular fuel.

“I guess I didn’t realize that it was going to be such an issue because they were talking on the news that it was not going to be a problem, that we were going to be OK, but apparently not. It’s like hurricane season is coming in,” said Sabine Damoiseau of North Fort Myers.

“I think they’re thinking toilet paper and they want to get their gas,” Troy said.

Some said they haven’t seen lines this long at gas stations since the 70s.

“The Arab oil embargo of ’73 where you had your license plate. You either had to get gas on an even or odd day,” Troy recalled.

They’re worried the lines are only going to get longer.

“It’s moving but how long is this gonna last with all these people?” Aiken wondered.

Not all stations are experiencing shortages but the City of Cape Coral is asking people to fuel up responsibly. Don’t hoard gas and don’t create long lines at stations.

They also want you to report any price gouging to the state’s hotline. You can call 866-966-7226 or submit your complaint online.

GasBuddy has a tool that lets you check gas station outages. Simply enter a ZIP code or city name.

Taylor Petras reporting from Cape Coral

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