Intracoastal Waterway Shut-Down Results in Empty Gas Pumps

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PANAMA CITY -- Last week's heavy rains are having a major impact on local drivers this week. Friday, the rain breached the levee in the Intracoastal Waterway at the Bay-Walton County line, shutting down barge traffic.
None of the barges have been able to deliver gasoline to the local market.

John Zahara says he's seen his share of empty gas pumps.

“I've passed a few gas stations that have had bags over their spout, their spouts on their gas tanks,” said Zahara.

He says he isn't worried about the gas shortage, at least not yet. Right now he has a full tank.

People are coming to the pumps, but a lot of them are saying they're out of gas.

Some stations still have a little regular. Some have supreme. Some only have diesel, and some have nothing.

"It may be days that I'm not able to get to the gas station to get some gas, I might be busy or something like that,” Zahara said.

When things are running normally, gasoline barges pass through the Intracoastal Waterway, and find their way to the Chevron gas terminal on Beach Drive in Downtown Panama City.

From there, tanker trucks haul the gas to gas stations. But last week's storms cut-off the Intracoastal. No barges are getting to the terminal and there's no gas for the trucks to haul.

"We tried to maintain as much supply as we could in the...We started supply of motor gases that we had started dwindling through the weekend into this morning,” said Terminal Manager Kevin Charles.

The Army Corps of Engineers is reportedly dredging the Intracoastal to make it passable for barge traffic. No word as to when that will be.

The Army Corps says it will cost about $500,000 to temporarily repair the levees. The permanent fix will cost up to $5 million.