Gas shortages were becoming so acute in Florida Thursday that Gov. Rick Scott announced the state’s law enforcement would provide an escort to gas trucks and appealed to the federal government and the governors of four other states to help replenish the fuel supplies as roads clogged with traffic out of evacuation zones throughout South Florida.
“We know fuel is important and absolutely devoting every state resource to addressing this,’’ Scott said at a press conference in Hialeah Thursday morning. At an interview on CNN at 1 p.m, the governor added: “There are lines. There are shortages. It isn’t widespread right now.”
Scott asked the governors of Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina to rescind weight and driver regulation to accelerate the ability of fuel tankers to get into the state. He said that U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has lifted federal regulations to get gas into Florida quickly.
He said that all Florida ports remain open and are ready to bring fuel and supplies into the state and “we’re laser focused to get as much fuel to our ports as possible while they are open.”
The governor repeated his offer to Monroe County residents who can’t evacuate because of a “fuel issue.” They can call 800-955-5504, which is the state’s dedicated transportation hotline.
“We will get you out, but you’ve got to call us,” Scott said. “If you are in an evacuation area, do not wait.”
For the second day, the governor urged the public to “take only the fuel you need” and urged people to use the Gas Buddy app to find stations with fuel. As of early Thursday, the company’s gas tracker app showed that there were 7,131 gas stations in Florida but only 1,784 were known to have gas.
“We have traffic cameras on every major roadway and are clearing traffic issues in real time to keep people moving,” Scott said.
While there appear to be bottlenecks at major junctions, he reminded people to travel to safety in short distances, not hundreds of miles.
“Find shelters in your county,” he said.