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Hurricane Charley Leaves Florida Gas, Power in Short Supply

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gas lines and shortages were the late-breaking insult to injury delivered by Hurricane Charley, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

Many Central Floridians venturing out from their powerless and waterless homes Sunday found themselves on a futile trek across metro Orlando in search of gas. But virtually all gas stations and convenience stores with pumps fell into one of three categories: gas but no power; power but no gas; no gas or power.

Anger management is advisable because the spot shortages are likely to persist for "a few weeks," said Jeremy Kemp of Florida Rock & Tank Lines, a major supplier to gas retailers in metro Orlando.

Normally, Florida Rock tankers serving Orlando draw from the company's storage facility at Taft, in south Orange County. But with no power in Taft to pump the gas, Florida Rock tankers have had to gas up in Tampa, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale -- doubling the delivery time. Add to that the oil barges in Tampa Bay that have been waiting for Charley to pass before docking.

Friday, the day Charley arrived in Central Florida, Florida Rock stopped filling tankers and sending them out on the road. "We were rolling as early as we could Saturday," Kemp said. "We had trucks that were preloaded. But we have 100 orders we haven't been able to deliver. We're 72 hours behind."

Motorists scouring metro Orlando on Sunday for gas grew accustomed to the sight of pump handles wrapped in plastic shopping bags or red covers. As the day wore on, gas shortages became outages and produced a cruel mirage -- convenience stores where vehicles were pulled up to the pumps, seemingly in the process of being fueled. But it turned out that motorists had turned the useless fuel bays into parking spaces for beer and soda runs into the store.
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