LABELLE- Floridians began to panic buy gas Tuesday night, with concerns about a gas shortage, after Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency.
Even though experts said that only north Florida and neighboring northern states would be affected, panic buying caused gas stations throughout Southern and Central Florida, including rural cities like Clewiston and LaBelle, to run out of gas by the morning of Wednesday, May 12. Frustrations began to rise further as long lines of cars began to form at other gas stations in the area.
According to the executive order by DeSantis, on May 7 Colonial Pipeline, a major US fuel pipeline operator, was the target of a cyberattack that disabled the computer systems responsible pipeline operations. 45% of fuel on the East Coast is delivered by Colonial Pipeline The FBI has reported the ransomware used in the attack came from a criminal syndicate known as DarkSide.
Social media was a flurry with concerns about the creation of a shortage due to panic buying. Residents of LaBelle went to Facebook with their complaints about people from neighboring cities coming to their area to panic buy large amounts of gas, some even posting photos of people filling multiple gas cans. Locals urged each other not to be greedy, and to stop hoarding fuel.
“So people from Ft. Myers are lined up in LaBelle gas stations, taking our resources! I dont like that. They did it during hurricanes also,” wrote Nathan Powers, owner of Nathan’s Barber Cuts in LaBelle.
“The gas shortage shouldn’t even effect Florida if people don’t panic. Ugh,” Jody Compton commented in a reply to Powers.
Experts say that the gas shortage should be resolved in about a week and that panic buying is the cause of the current shortage. Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, told Floridians not to “panic” and to “buy responsibly.”
The state of emergency is set to expire in 30 days from Tuesday, May 11, unless Gov. DeSantis extends it.