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Pipeline shutdown leads to long lines for gas in Stanly

Many people across Stanly County, and many other parts of the state, have been waiting in long lines over the past day to purchase gas following the news of a major pipeline that’s been temporarily shut down.

Savannah Bailey, manager of the Shell station on N.C. Highway 24-27 across from Handi-Mart, said cars are having to line up to wait for gas, but it’s been moving fairly quickly.

“It’s not a huge wait time but there is a wait time,” she said.

Bailey said people were lined up at every pump Tuesday morning since the station received a gas delivery a few minutes before 10 a.m.

She said as far as she knows every other gas station in the county and all the way up through Charlotte is facing similar surges. Bailey said she imagines the panic buying will likely continue through much of the week.

Quik Chek gas station in Locust sold out of gas in only three hours Tuesday morning.

Albemarle Assistant Police Chief Jesse Huneycutt said that an officer was directing traffic at Walmart though it was orderly and controlled.

“I went to Walmart myself to get gas and saw the officer directing traffic,” he said, noting that “there was nothing of a panic.”

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order Monday following the news that Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey and provides about 45 percent all fuel consumed on the East Coast, shut down following a ransomware attack.

“Today’s emergency declaration will help North Carolina prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel,” Cooper said in a release.

North Carolina’s gas price average currently sits at $2.85, according to AAA Carolinas, 6 cents more expensive than Tuesday and 22 cents more expensive than last month.

Stanly’s gas price average is currently $2.77, up 4 cents since yesterday, though still one of the lowest price averages in the state, according to AAA. It’s 11 cents lower than Mecklenburg, for example, and 7 cents lower than Cabarrus. The western part of the state appears to be the worst, with average prices approaching or even exceeding $3.

Around 30 gas stations in the county, as of Wednesday, have limited fuel options, according to Gasbuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices and demand while three stations have no fuel or power.

As of 12:37 p.m. Wednesday, Gasbuddy reported that 65 percent of North Carolina’s gas stations had fuel outages.

“The impact of this pipeline outage will vary regionally,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “The outage will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices. The longer it is offline, the larger the impact on the east coast.”

Some of Colonial Pipeline’s lateral lines have reopened, according to AAA, but there is no word of when the mainline, including the gasoline line, will be operational.

Stanly County Airport president Ken Swaringen said the airport hasn’t been impacted, as it recently received fuel shipments.

“We don’t foresee severe impact at this point because we know there’s fuel available and it’s just us scheduling and ordering and them being able to get it in a truck and get it delivered,” Swaringen said.

But the longer Colonial Pipelines remains shut down, the more likely problems could possibly arise, he said.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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