Hurricane planners say Wilma will almost certainly cause spot outages at gas stations in south Florida. They caution there is no reason to panic.
Craig Fugate, Director of Florida Emergency Operations, says, “We will see shortages. There will be gas stations that run out. There will be people who will become frustrated, but we can tell you, the system will be correcting that and will be getting fuel back into the areas as rapidly as possible, but you need to conserve fuel.”
Five in Tallahassee were fined for price gouging after Katrina. One station in Eustis and one in Pensacola were also fined. Unless challenged, the stations will pay $22,000.
In addition to the seven stations that were fined, another 190 remain under investigation and could face fines later.
It was no coincidence Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson chose to announce the fines as Wilma is approaching the state.
Charles Bronson says, “You can’t do this! You know, when the governor signs that order and every media outlet that I know of puts out there the governor is signing an emergency order, that’s the signal that says you can’t arbitrarily jump numbers on gas prices, and diesel and other things. Hotels. Food.”
The investigation after Katrina found stations padding their prices by as much as 34 cents a gallon. An emergency order after Rita remains in effect.
Later Wednesday, Gov. Jeb Bush was expected to extend the state of emergency to cover recovery from Wilma.