Emergency vehicles staying fueled up during state of emergency

Emergency vehicles staying fueled up during state of emergency

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Emergency vehicles across the area are staying fueled up in the event that there are any gas shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey.

"What we're telling our people is don't panic, you can top off your tanks, if you get to a half a tank and you can't find any, call our office," said Bill Summers, Emergency Management Director for Lincoln County.

Summers needs to make sure that emergency vehicles have the fuel they need, so earlier today he advised Lincoln County's public service agencies to top off the tanks, and he's ready to take other fuel saving measures.

"We start slowing down our unnecessary traffic, go when you have to, but if you don't need to, stay still," Summers added.

At the Murphy's Express in Lincolnton business was very steady.  There were no long lines, but as soon as one driver pulled away, another was ready to take that spot.

Cassie Woodlief wasn't in a hurry to get gas, and is hopeful that there won't be any shortages.

"I don't really feel like we have one but people, because of the hurricane, they're going to put it out there so let's panic and let's go create a shortage," Woodlief said.

Summers said that if a station did run out of gas, it would likely be the smaller, independently owned station.

An Exxon station on Highway 150 in Lincolnton was dry on Friday.  The owner said he was working to try and get fuel for his tanks.

"They're independent, but they're going to get fuel," Summers said. "The ones that are going to get fuel are the name places…they have a lot of fuel in the pipeline at all times."

On Thursday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency based on fears of a possible shortage.

"Hurricane Harvey's damage to refineries in Texas and Louisiana could ripple throughout the southeast, causing gasoline shortages and rising prices," Cooper said. "I'm taking action to make it easier to get gasoline into our state so North Carolinians who need gas can get it."

The move came after Colonial Pipeline announced greatly reduced service from the Gulf Coast.

"Colonial's Lines 1 and 2 continue to operate from Lake Charles east. Deliveries will be intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply," the company announced in a press release. "The lines remain down from Houston to Hebert due to the storms. We currently estimate that we will be able to return to service from Houston Sunday, following an evaluation of our infrastructure and successful execution of our start up plan."

The state of emergency allows Cooper to temporarily lift the restrictions that determine the maximum hours of service for fuel vehicles traveling through North Carolina. Cooper said the order would allow for more fuel to be brought into the state.

The order also activates North Carolina's price gouging law, which prohibits "overcharging in a time of crisis," according to the press release.

The law will go into effect for the next 45 days, and Cooper's office is encouraging residents to report gasoline price gouging to officials.

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