TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News) – Gas distribution problems resulting from the cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline are causing long lines and empty pumps in the Florida panhandle. 

State officials are urging residents to remain calm and avoid panic buying.

For many Floridians in the panhandle they were greeted with empty stations drained of all fuel or others with long lines full of drivers fighting for a full tank.

Tallahassee resident Dondre Thompson came to the pump expecting a length wait.

“I’ve already been to like 15 gas stations around the east side of Tallahassee so I’m on E. I’m just trying to get some gas,” said Thompson.

Florida Director of Consumer Services Rick Kimsey told us a perfect storm of separate issues has resulted in the distribution problems.

“It started with a fuel quality issue in the Western Panhandle. That coupled with a nationwide driver shortage for petroleum truck drivers and then the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline,” said Kimsey.

Kimsey doesn’t expect the problem to spread statewide, as much of the Peninsula gets its gas from the ports.

He said even in the panhandle there’s plenty of fuel.

It’s just a matter of getting it to the pump fast enough to keep up with demand, which is skyrocketing due to panic buying.

“Any pressure on the system is going to make the situation worse,” said Kimsey.

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried put out a video on Twitter urging Floridians to refrain from panic buying.

“Fuel is continuing to move around our state,” said Fried.

When the pipeline will come back online isn’t entirely clear. In the meantime, the state is working on finding other means to deliver fuel to impacted areas.

Director Kimsey says if you are in a situation where you need gas now, try to only take what you need as gas is on the way

AAA issued a statement to News Channel 8 in regards to gas supply issues in Tampa Bay:

People are hearing there’s a pipeline outage somewhere and are racing out to fill up their tanks.  Gasoline sales are reportedly 2-3 times higher than normal.

“As a result, drivers are creating the gasoline shortage. Despite the pipeline outage, we continued to receive shipments of gasoline via waterborne vessels (as we always have). So the only shortage we should expect here in Tampa, is whatever shortage is manufactured by fear.”