ORLANDO, Fla. — There have been many reasons why officials have used the “worst case scenario” moniker to describe Hurricane Ian’s track as it bears down on the Tampa region.
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There is, of course, the potential damage to Tampa itself through storm surge and extreme winds. There’s the damage to the Central Florida if the path keeps shifting east and the economic hit both tourism-focused regions would take.
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Another effect would potentially be to Florida’s supply of fuel. In some models, the hurricane stalls over Tampa for up to two days – over the port where Central Florida’s fuel flows in from.
Already, disruptions have been projected through power outages and high winds. Trucks, industry insiders told WFTV, can’t operate when winds are gusting above 30 miles per hour. Anyone who wasn’t wise enough to ensure their tanks had some reserves in it could expect to go without fuel shipments for a few days – assuming prolonged power outages weren’t also in play.
“There will likely be some interruption of fuel at some point,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Monday press conference. “The goal is to minimize that and keep that as small as possible.”
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The governor’s remarks came as he said officials were working on plans to send fuel across the state as soon as it was safe to do so to make sure any rebuilding needed wouldn’t be delayed.
In preparation for Tropical Storm #Ian, I directed @MyFDOT to waive weight restrictions for commercial trucks to ensure ample fuel and resources are coming into FL.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 25, 2022
We've also waived state requirements to ensure pharmacies can prescribe 30-day emergency refills for medications.
Other supply chain representatives also said they’ve been working diligently. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times Monday, a Port Tampa spokeswoman said almost all ships had already offloaded their supply and left for safer waters.
“The Port has began preparing the PUSH Teams organic to the Port and those of tenant facilities to prepare to assess and quickly recover to ensure an efficient return to operations,” Port Tampa Bay officials said in a statement.
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Following Hurricane Irma in 2017, FDOT invested in an after-action report to examine the weaknesses of the fuel supply chain in the event of a natural disaster. Analysts recommended several changes to maintain a steady flow of fuel, from police escorts to regulation waivers, but said the chain was already decently strong without those adjustments.
It’s unclear how many of the recommendations have been implemented ahead of Ian’s arrival.
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