The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is warning residents in and around the North Carolina city to “limit non-essential travel” as panic buying following the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline last week is increasingly causing the states gas pumps to run dry.
The development comes as an analyst from the website GasBuddy which tracks fuel prices around the U.S. reported that 71% of gas stations in the Charlotte area are currently out of fuel.
“If you do not have to come out and go out, please do not,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Capt. Brad Koch told reporters Wednesday.
A customer pumps gas at Costco as a worker directs traffic on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. (AP)
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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He advised locals to check on their neighbors particularly elderly ones to see if they need any supplies.
“Do not hoard fuel. We are going to get through this, similar to whenever we have severe weather and we seem to lose a lot of bread and milk at the stores, similarly to last year at the beginning of the pandemic when all the stores were out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer,” Koch added. “Im confident people still have a lot of hand sanitizer that they will not ever use. So do not hoard fuel, treat each other with grace and courtesy and compassion and understanding and know that we as a community are going to get through this fuel crisis.”
Tensions are already running high in the Southeast as long lines are forming at pumps.
In North Carolina, a male and female driver brawled outside a gas station in Knightdale on Tuesday after the woman tried to cut a line of cars waiting for their chance to fill up, a witness said.
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Patrick De Haan, an analyst with GasBuddy, reported that 28.2% of gas stations in North Carolina are without fuel this morning, followed by 17.5% in Georgia, 17.1% in Virginia and 16.2% in South Carolina.
Koch says the Colonial Pipeline “provides the majority of fuel to the city of Charlotte.”
“A lot of people are very frustrated,” he added. “There has been a lot of hoarding going on, a lot of very long lines.”
But he vowed that his departments operations remain unaffected and police still are responding to all 911 calls.
The Colonial Pipeline was hit last week by Russian ransomware group DarkSide.
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The 5,500-mile pipeline system transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil per day, or roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the Eastern Seaboard between the Gulf Coast and the New York metro area.
Colonial Pipeline Co. said on Monday that it is aiming to substantially restore its system by the end of the week.
Fox News Jack Durschlag contributed to this report.