Gas at Jerniman’s on Ocracoke is restricted until tanks are refilled. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Restricting the sale of gas to emergency vehicles only quashed a panic run on gas purchases this week at Jerniman’s gas station.

Jerniman’s on Tuesday experienced long lines as people dashed to the gas station before co-owner Drew Batts asked customers to limit their purchases to five gallons.

But the run continued as island visitors thought that once they left the island there wouldn’t be gas available.

“We went through 4,500 gallons from Tuesday to Wednesday when I shut it down,” he said Thursday night.

A wave of panic buying across the state was set off earlier in the week by the temporary shutdown over the weekend of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies much of the fuel for the East Coast, after learning it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack.

Colonial’s 5,500-mile gas pipeline in the eastern United States is a primary fuel pipeline for North Carolina.  That shutdown led to fuel shortages throughout North Carolina, which Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday were “pretty much solely related to panic buying.”

As the pipeline began running again on Thursday, Cooper and other North Carolina officials urged patience while supplies get stabilized.

Batts on Wednesday put signs on the four pumps saying that gas was only for emergency vehicles. On Thursday, the station was quieter although vehicles intermittently rolled in and after seeing the signs on the pumps, rolled out.

Batts said that Beasley Enterprises out of Ahoskie brings 9,000 per visit, which is about every two weeks, and that Ocracoke is in the queue for another delivery, but he didn’t know when that would be.

“We’re waiting for confirmation,” he said.

Facebook posts on Thursday showed that gas is available on Hatteras in Buxton and Avon.

Batts said he hasn’t had any problems since he restricted the pumps.

“Everyone’s been great,” he said. “The tourists and locals did really well.”

As for diesel fuel, Batts said there’s plenty of that.

“There’s almost 4,000 gallons, but not that many diesel drivers,” he said.

Closed gas pumps at Jerniman’s on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

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