Panic at the pumps: Tri-Cities drivers experiencing long lines, limits, and outages at gas stations

Local

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Five days after a cyberattack on a U.S. fuel pipeline and Tri-Cities drivers are starting to feel the impacts.

The Quality Plus on West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton had dozens of cars waiting to fill up Tuesday afternoon. The high demand caused frustration at the pumps.

“I have two children and you have to prepay. You have to walk up to the register to pay and I did that twice and I still was unable to get gas,” said Ashlie Osborne as she was leaving to head to another gas station. “Me being not very knowledgeable about vehicles, I’m not even sure if I was able to put [premium gas] in my car so I had to ask someone if that was even a possibility and it was a dollar more expensive already and I’m sure it’s just going to go up from there.”

Some stations only had mid-grade or premium gas…and limited amounts at that.

“It’s crazy! Just like the toilet paper…it’s like all the paper products, people ran to the stores and just started cleaning the shelves. Same thing here,” said Sandy Whittaker after she and her husband spent more than an hour going to several gas stations in Jonesborough to get gas.

The change in product and rise in price caused fear for what the future holds. Some were only able to afford to fill up the tank for their main vehicle.

“They’re already close to $3 and it wouldn’t surprise me if they got up to $5 and you got a lot of disabled people out there that’s got to buy medicine and food and groceries…and gas, how are they going to afford that?” said Tim Roberts at the Exxon on 11E in Jonesborough. “I work as a paramedic and it takes every dime I can do just to survive and I can’t afford $5 worth of gasoline.”

Others hope the pipeline reopens soon so prices and lines go down.

“We decided just a little bit before like ‘Oh, we heard about this gas thing. Let’s stop and get gas and now,’ we’re glad because the line’s outrageous here,” said Joe and Hope Szlarski in Elizabethton. “Probably going to get worse. We have a big move coming up so just being worried about how gas prices are going to affect that.”

While Colonial Pipeline expects the line to be reopened by the end of the week, drivers say they fear the impacts of this shutdown could last well into the weekend.

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