Bill Nelson urges FEMA to help with Florida gas shortage

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Alarmed by reports of Hurricane Irma evacuees finding empty gas stations throughout South Florida, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is urging FEMA to do something about it.

In a letter late Wednesday to William B. Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Nelson called on the agency to use “all available resources and authorities” to help with the evacuation, including pre-positioning del supplies near and along evacuation routes.

“As a growing number of Floridians are being ordered to evacuate, we need to ensure that these evacuees have access to the gasoline they need to escape this approaching storm,” Nelson wrote. “I strongly urge FEMA to use all available resources and authorities to assist those evacuating this potentially catastrophic storm, including pre-positioning fuel supplies near and along evacuation routes so those running low on fuel can obtain an emergency supply to get them out of harm’s way.”

Nelson’s letter comes amid numerous reports of of gas rations from Miami to West Palm Beach running out of fuel. He noted that in 2005, thousands of people got stuck on the side of the road as they tried to leave Houston during Hurricane Rita, and wrote, “We cannot allow this to happen again.”

Nelson also said he has asked the Federal Trade Commission to monitor reports of fuel price gouging to make sure Floridians are not being taken advantage of, and asked that FEMA also do what it can to assist Floridians at this vulnerable time.

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Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.