Frustrations rise as fuel supply runs low in NETN

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — President Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday on the cyberattack that shut down Colonial Pipeline for several days.

The pipeline, which supplies about 45% of the East Coast’s fuel, resumed operations Wednesday afternoon.

The president urged people to be patient as they expect to see a return to normal operations this weekend into next week.

“We’ll not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch. This pipeline is 5,500 miles long. It had never been fully shut down its entire history,” President Biden said.

Various gas and providers like Shell, BP and Food City confirmed they are either seeking alternative supply points to our region or have fuel in route to their fuel stations.

Drivers who found gas in Jonesborough Thursday said it felt like they won the lottery.

Just off of Depot Street sits Washington Farmers Co-op and Car Care, one of the locations in Northeast Tennessee that has not run out of fuel.

“Our Pump 3, I guess we have older pumps, our Pump 3 gets hot and just quits. We have to let it cool off before people can actually use both pumps,” Washington Farmers Co-op and Car Care store manager said.

According to GasBuddy, as of news time, 33% of gas stations in Tennessee and 51% in Virginia are without fuel.

“I’ve been all over Jonesborough, Johnson City. I couldn’t find any gas,” Jonesborough resident Erin Decker said.

Drivers in Jonesborough are flocking to Washington Farmers Co-op and Car Care to get their hands on what seems like liquid gold.

“It’s been a struggle. Today is the first day I’ve been able to find it here. I couldn’t find it at all yesterday,” Decker said. “It’s about at a quarter tank.”

“They were in lines up down the road. I wouldn’t even get in line. It was too full. I wasn’t going to sit there that long,” Limestone resident George Gregory added.

Co-op and Car Care manager Steve Miller said the store started limiting drivers to $30 per fill-up to curb hoarding unless they are with EMS or a lawn mowing company.

The facility also started closing its overnight fuel station at 5 p.m.

“We didn’t want people to come and just drain the tanks overnight,” Miller explained. “Today, it’s just been a mad house. It comes in big spurts, and it’ll slow down a little bit. We have actually more than doubled the business.”

Miller said their location has not run out of gas because they have an extra thousand gallons at their location.

As drivers become frustrated with long lines and empty gas pumps, various oil companies said they are working on getting fuel back in our region.

Shell Oil Company released this statement saying in part:

We are seeking alternative supply points, where possible, and are in close coordination with our Shell-branded wholesalers to tackle supply and logistical challenges as a result of this incident. We will continue to work with our wholesalers to minimize impacts to our customers.”

Natalie Gunnell, spokesperson, Shell Oil Company

BP also releasing a statement saying in part:

“Entire region is looking to resupply, and individual site supply is subject to terminal availability as well as transport scheduling. We are working hard to effectively manage terminal supply and communicate availability to local operators as quickly and effectively as possible.”

BP Communications

Drivers said that they checked out several local gas stations for fuel but came up empty, but then word of mouth lead them to Co-Op in Jonesborough.

“We use the Co-op for fuel through work and stuff, so we’re down here quite a bit getting gas so I know they have gas. It’s a little gem over here, so I figured they might not have ran out yet, so. Everywhere else was completely empty,” Jonesborough resident Jacob Muldoon said. “It’s been rough. No gas stations have gas in them. There was one we went by this morning in Jonesborough. They had got a shipment of gas, but the pumps were down. They weren’t pumping hardly any gas at all.”

Food City also releasing a statement on its timeline for fuel

“Currently about half of our stations still have fuel in stock, with a dozen stores scheduled to receive fuel deliveries this morning. If the Colonial Pipeline performs as anticipated, we should receive some fuel from them later today and will be shipping that out to our stores tonight. We also have some fuel coming this weekend from the Plantation Pipeline. So while we are going to continue to see some spotty outages, we will have fuel arriving at our stores over the next few days.”

Steven C. Smith
Food City President/CEO

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