Floridians faced long lines at gas stations and empty shelves as residents prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Ian, a storm expected to reach Category 4 by the time it makes landfall in the Sunshine State later this week.
Alicia Socker of Lee County told WINK News she had encountered multiple “no gas” signs as she searched for fuel on Monday.
“No gas. Next gas station on the left, no gas next station in front of Publix, no gas,” she said, before eventually locating a Circle K station with supplies.
“If it was $8 a gallon, I would have gotten a couple right,” she added. “Seriously, when you need it, you need it.”
In Eastern Florida, which will be hit later this week after the state’s west suffers the first impact, residents were also spotted filling cars and gas cans en masse.
"I ain’t sure where it’s going to go and they don’t neither, but I’m just getting prepared," Robert Maness told The Daytona Beach News-Journal as he filled gas cans, both for his truck and a home power generator.
Despite the surge in demand, gas prices in the state have remained steady so far with an average price of $3.379 per gallon, up less than a cent from Sunday.
Observers also said they were glad the route of Hurricane Ian appeared unlikely to knock out oil refineries.
"Since Tropical Storm Ian is not projected to impact the refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, it’s unlikely that the storm itself or the resulting demand, would cause pump prices to spike," Mark Jenkins, a spokesperson for the American Automotive Association, told the Tallassee Democrat.
"The bottom line is, don’t panic about gasoline supplies, just take what you need," he added.
State officials have warned petrol station owners that price-gouging during the state of emergency is illegal and could result in thousands of dollars of fines.
Meanwhile, grocery stores also experienced a rush and key shortages over the weekend as Floridians prepared for the storm.
Blank aisles were pictured where supermarkets would normally have cases of essentials like bottled water.
A Publix supermarket in St Petersburg began rationing water sales, limiting customers to two 24-packs of bottles or one 32-pack.
"As we continue to monitor Ian, Publix locations may limit quantities of items, such as water, to best serve the majority of our customers," a Publix spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. "We have seen increased purchases on items such as bread, water, batteries and canned goods, just to name a few."
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