Gas stations running dry as drivers make mad dash to pumps

Many gas stations sold out of regular unleaded

Long lines at the Shell gas station at US 183 North and Balcones Club Drive on Aug. 31, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)
Long lines at the Shell gas station at US 183 North and Balcones Club Drive on Aug. 31, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Drivers rushed out to fill up their tanks Thursday when word spread that some Austin-area gas stations were facing short-term fuel shortages after Hurricane Harvey.

“My husband told me to get out and go get gas now,” said Jamie Hogan as she pulled through a station parking lot where the gas was already gone.

With so many people heading to the pump at once, many gas stations quickly ran out of everything but diesel.

“It’s looking scary,” said Joe Malbomado as he struggled to find a place still supplied with unleaded fuel. “I’ve tried four different places. They’re all dried out.”

“I’m about 30 miles until empty on the way to work this morning. Thought I’d have enough to get to work, said I’ll get it after work. I pulled up and well, there’s some red bags on the handles,” explained Marsha Sikes, who was trying to get gas Thursday evening.

Great Hills driver, Carl Dahlberg, said he first noticed the panic online.

“I work from home and I wasn’t planning on there not being any gas today. I started seeing everything on social media about lines and so I went out to get gas and I’ve gone from one gas station to the next, and there hasn’t been anything available.”

At those gas stations that still had a steady supply, drivers sat and waited in long lines.

“It’s a temporary inconvenience compared to what Houston’s dealing with,” Hogan said, “But better safe than sorry.”

Some stations still offering unleaded gasoline only had premium left, but that was a price most customers were willing to pay.

The Texas railroad commissioner told KXAN the current issues with gas stations running out of fuel is because people are rushing to gas stations to buy fuel, which is causing a run on gas — basically a vicious cycle.

“That rushing to the gas station is what’s causing the panic. We have plenty of gasoline in this country. We have about two million barrels of gasoline capacity that’s offline. But, we have 230 million barrels of gasoline in inventory in the United States,” said Commissioner Ryan Sitton.

“We are just working through logistics of getting that gasoline to those gas stations, but unfortunately, the run on the gas stations is causing a short-term lack of gasoline and some shortages at gas stations.”

Gov. Greg Abbott says he is issuing a temporary waiver of the International Fuel Tax Agreement to suspend requirements for trucking firms and get fuel into the state faster. “As Texas begins the recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it is important that Texans have access to much needed resources, including gasoline and fuel.”

Sitton says there is plenty of gasoline to go around.

“We have over 100 times as much gasoline in inventory as there are gasoline outages right now,” Sitton added. “The average Texan fills up their car every 10 days. Well, if all Texans go on the same day to fill up their car, that’s demanding 10 times as much gasoline in that day as the system is designed to support, and it won’t work.”

The Railroad Commission tells KXAN News that if drivers would remain calm and return to normal gasoline purchasing patterns, supply issues will return to normal in three to four days.

If you have concerns about possible price gouging, officials say to contact the Attorney General’s Office and file a complaint. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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