Hundreds of gas stations across Florida are reportedly out of fuel, even as thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate hours before Hurricane Irma strikes the state.
Using data from the tracking website GasBuddy, CNN reported Saturday afternoon that more than 65 percent of gas stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area are out of gas. More than half are reportedly dry in other areas where the storm is expected to strike, including West Palm Beach, Naples and Fort Myers.
In Tampa, where the latest projections show Irma hitting directly, more than 40 percent of stations are reportedly out of gas.
Even in places where the storm is not projected to hit directly, such as Tallahassee, have widespread shortages, with around a quarter of stations empty, per CNN.
What’s more, these numbers are getting worse. On Friday night, CBS News reported that less than 40 percent of Miami gas stations were out. USA Today reported at the same time that 35 percent of Tampa stations were dry.
Drivers are “searching and searching and searching for gas,” GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan told USA Today. “Those numbers are just very high. This is a real crisis.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott pleaded with gas stations across the state to stay open on Friday, giving tankers police escorts to help them reach stations faster, per CBS News.
“For gas stations in evacuation zones, we need you to stay open as long as you can so people can get as much fuel and get out. We will arrange police escorts for your employees so they can get out safely,” Scott said.
The price of gas has increased 23 cents in Florida over the past week to $2.72, per AAA. Tensions over access to gas have boiled over in some incidents, including one in which a man pulled a gun during a fight over fuel.
Beyond the time Irma is actually hitting Florida, it could potentially cause more gas problems down the road. According to Business Insider, because Irma is expected to cause widespread power outages across the state, some stations might not be able to pump gas until electricity is restored.