News Staff Writer
Oversaturated media coverage of the Sept. 9 Colonial Pipeline leak contributed to city-wide panic leading many to impulsively purchase fuel.
In Asheville, residents awoke to gas shortages and raised prices.
According to Colonial, on Sept. 9, the 5,550-mile Colonial Pipeline leaked in Alabama. While no threat to public safety was found, a gas shortage spread across the Southeast, hitting Western North Carolina particularly hard, as the line delivers gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from Texas and Louisiana to a bevy of southeastern states.
Leonard Woodring, manager of the Citi Stop Shell on 411 Merrimon Ave., said media coverage of this event played a larger role in the shortage than the actual leak, citing panic buying as the largest contributor of both lack of gas and higher prices.
“If it wasn’t for panic buying, there really wouldn’t have been a gas shortage because there would have been enough coming in,” Woodring said. “But then people panic. They fill every car they have. They keep it full every day if they can. They buy all the gas cans up. If no one would have known, it would have just been let go. No one would have ever known we had a shortage.”
For some students, such as Hannah Earnhardt, a sophomore literature student, the effects of not being able to find gas reach farther than their pockets.
“I have been trying to go to Charlotte every weekend and that takes about half a tank of gas for me, back and forth and no gas means I can’t visit my friend and she has cancer,” Earnhardt said. “So the gas shortage has very negatively affected me because I would super like to visit my friend and I couldn’t for like a week and a half.”
Earnhardt added she, like many, often drove around until she found a station with gas, wasting the already restricted fuel and money.
Others, such as Olivia Cox, a sophomore environmental science student from Charlotte, were temporarily stranded on campus.
“I wasn’t able to drive anywhere for, like, a week and a half because I literally had no gas and my gas light came on and there’s nowhere in Asheville that has gas,” Cox said.
However, the end is in sight. Woodring said gas is already coming in and the shortage will end soon.
“We got it this morning, but only half a tank. We usually get 7,000 to 10,000 gallons when we’re out and we got 3,000. So that’s what happens,” Woodring said. “It is pumping in right now, but it still has to fill up.”