Tampa, FL -- Well, despite what you might see at those gas stations that say “No Fuel”, we found out there’s actually plenty of gas out there. In fact, millions of gallons of it at Port Tampa Bay.
That’s hard to understand when it comes to folks like Michelle Spaulding, who drove all the way from Sligh Avenue to downtown Tampa just to fill up her tank Tuesday.
All of the stations near her, said Michelle, still out.
“And trust me, I've been looking. No gas,” she said.
Well, for Michelle and others, here’s a sight for sore eyes.
Two massive fuel tankers floated into Port Tampa Bay Tuesday. The first of 10 to arrive over the next 48 hours.
“That’s definitely a relief then,” said Craig White, who’s been topping off his tank every night.
You’d think so, right?
But it might surprise you to find out, according to Port Tampa Bay, that there has never been a fuel shortage. Not before, during, or after Hurricane Irma.
According port officials, there's always been an ample supply of fuel sitting those huge holding tanks at the port.
That leads some to question – what the heck happened, then?
“Why are they getting all the fuel, and why aren't we?” asked White.
“Because a lot of the gas stations were saying we are waiting for them to come. Like the trucks, to come. And fill them up. That's shocking,” said Amos Similton, filling up for the first time since Irma hit.
One theory is that a state-wide mad rush for gasoline ahead of Hurricane Irma quickly drained supply at local gas stations. And while there was still plenty of fuel at the port, there weren't enough trucks to distribute it. In fact, even fewer trucks as many we're being taken off the road to safeguard them from being damaged by the storm.
That's what Carl Smalling thinks. And his Channelside Marathon station couldn't be closer to the port.
“They have fuel. You know, they just don't distribute it,” said Smalling. “You know, they had the fuel, but they close the port down because of the hurricane. So that messed things up.”
Port Tampa Bay says it doesn't decide where fuel tankers go once they fill up and hit the roads to supply local gas stations. That's up to the fuel companies which service the entire Central Florida region.
As for folks like Michelle Walden, they just want to know when some of that gas will make it to their neighborhood.
“Free our gas, give us our gas,” she said, “so we don't have to come way over to this side of town with a little bit of gas that we already had in our car.”
The answer of when we can expect to see the end of this, say port officials, is probably pretty soon.
Supply, they say, is clearly not the issue, and demand is getting back to normal.