Gas at a premium as Southwest Floridians evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma

Posted at 7:00 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 19:00:30-04

Gas stations are selling out of gas quickly as Southwest Floridians fill up their tanks in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Many stations in Collier County had plastic bags over their pump handles on Thursday, or had "out of gas" signs posted on the pumps.

Yolanda Espinoza, a clerk at a Chevron station on Marco Island, said they sold out of gas just hours after a fuel delivery early Thursday morning.

"They couldn't deliver until 4:30 this morning," Espinoza said. "And we were out of fuel by nine."

Another fuel delivery in the afternoon put her station back in business, as people returned to fill up their tanks - many to head off the island ahead of Irma.

"We wanted to encourage early evacuation so people got ahead of the traffic," said Captain Dave Baer of the Marco Island Poilce Department. "They could get a hotel room, get off the island, and not be part of a traffic jam on I-75."

But the city of Marco Island held off on issuing a mandatory evacuation until Collier County opens emergency shelters.

Kimberly Popple said she and her husband plan to ride out the hurricane on the island.

"The most important thing was to make sure all the hurricane shutters were," Popple said. "Just in case there's a storm surge, we're going to move things that are very important to us up to the second floor."

Baer asks people on the island to conserve their fuel by not getting gas for items like lawnmowers and boats that won't be used.