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Florida Considers Fuel Reserves

Hurricane Irma triggered statewide fuel outages at gas stations.

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November 3, 2017

​TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida could stockpile fuel to hedge against future storms, the News Service of Florida/Fox TV 13 reports. Florida Sen. Gary Farmer introduced a measure this week that would direct the state’s Division of Emergency Management to put together a task force to study the issue of keeping a state fuel reserve.

The bill doesn’t discuss details like cost or fuel levels, but it does mandate the task force’s recommendations be in place by the end of April 2019. “It is our obligation to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of our citizens and guests who are in harm's way leading up to a natural disaster,” Farmer said. “In the days prior to Hurricane Irma, it became readily apparent that our fuel supplies could simply not keep up with the demand for gasoline. This created a situation where many Floridians were unable to travel to safety, or to properly prepare for the storm.”

The proposal was sent to the newly formed House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness. “Gas wasn't readily accessible,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran, said when the committee was created. “Having a committee that looks at why does a state, in the richest country in the world, the third largest (state), why don't we have a significant gas reserve in the central part of the state so that's not an issue moving forward for our citizens?”

During Irma, Florida officials ordered 6.5 million residents to evacuate their homes, which triggered massive backups along highways and fuel shortages at gas stations. This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott requested that the state’s Department of Transportation and other state agencies work together with fuel retailers, Florida ports and law enforcement on how to achieve higher fuel capacity during emergencies. “Increasing the availability of fuel for evacuations at Florida gas stations is a top priority,” he said.