HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Several days after the shutdown of a major gas pipeline following a cyberattack, the Colonial Pipeline is back up and running. It could still be days, however, before fuel makes its way to stations in the Commonwealth.
Many drivers were still scrambling to fill their tanks Wednesday.
“They’re pulling up and pulling off as they read the signs,” said Millers customer sales rep Melita Carter.
People on the hunt for fuel were met with signs on pumps that read, “Out of gas,” leaving them out of luck.
“This is like the third or fourth gas station,” said James Miley of Florence, Kentucky. “Some guy pulled up next to me and asked me if I know where to get gas and I said no.”
Miley hit the road from his home state of Kentucky Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until he crossed into Virginia when he noticed the growing lines at stations.
“I’m down below half a tank, so I thought I’d better get some more gas, but I never realized it was going to be this bad,” Miley said. “It’s crazy ain’t it?”
Thousands of drivers along the East Coast are feeling the ripple effect of Friday’s hack on the Colonial Pipeline, forcing it to shut down. The pipeline delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.
Dozens of gas stations continued to run dry, including one on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard in Newport News.
Panic buying is only making things worse.
“It’s been total chaos,” said Melita Carter. “My mom called and said there was no gas in Virginia Beach, and when I came from over there to here yesterday, it was probably about - no exaggeration - 70 cars in our parking lot and 70 trying to come in. There was a little bit of gas this morning, then we ran out maybe two hours after being open.”
Just a few blocks away, a 7-Eleven was one of the few stations that still had gas at rush hour, but even that supply was quickly running out. An employee was seen putting bags over pumps that ran dry.
“We just wanted to top off because we have to run a lot of errands tomorrow,” said James Deviese of Yorktown. “We have to go on the other side, and I’m always worried about the tunnel.”
In Norfolk, it was a similar scene.
Two cars collided after one driver gave up and tried to escape the long line.
“I just don’t get it,” said Miley. “Now the prices are going up to almost $3 a gallon.”
Even though the pipeline is back online, it could be several days before the gas supply chain returns to normal and drivers see some relief at the pump.