Following an announcement from Governor Haslam yesterday, cautioning Tennesseeans to “maintain their normal fuel purchasing and driving patterns” in order to avoid a potential gas shortage, physician Lee Roy Wills of Sylvan Park joined several of his neighbors, friends, and associates in purchasing four times their usual weekly gas consumption at the nearest gas station, thus causing the station to experience the very shortage of which they were afraid.
“There’s gonna be a lot stupid people out there that are gonna ignore the Governor’s warning,” Wills told reporters, “ which is exactly why I felt the need to order two ten-gallon gas containers off of Amazon Now, and immediately fill them up and to also top-off my ¾ full SUV. I mean, I pretty much had to get as much gas as possible before everyone else created a panic and kept me from getting any.”
The situation began to develop Friday morning when a petroleum pipeline in Alabama, which is responsible for a portion of the fuel sent to Middle Tennessee, burst and spilled an estimated 6,000 barrels of fuel. While it is only one company’s pipeline and not the sole source (nor an overly significant source) of the greater-Nashville-area’s petroleum, Governor Haslam nonetheless declared a temporary state of emergency; this declaration allowed the government to briefly suspend labor laws that would prevent fuel companies from sending extra fuel tankers into the area to compensate for the downed pipeline. Both Gov. Haslam and the fuel company assured residents that, if they proceed as normal, only minor shortages might occur and normal fuel levels will resume within the weekend.
Nonetheless, other motorists interviewed at the fueling station expressed remarkably similar feelings to Wills’, which might be a contributing factor as to why several area gas stations are now, indeed, reporting fuel shortages. Cynthia Jacobs, a school teacher from Mt. Juliet who drove all the way to the Sylvan Park gas station, noted “I know that there’s ultimately nothing to worry about, but some people are just prone to go overboard and end up causing issues for everyone else when they really don’t have to. Thankfully, my neighbor runs a junkyard and he has a couple of old metal fuel barrels, so I threw them in my husband’s F-150 and headed straight here to get two months’ worth of gas. I won’t let any panic-stricken morons put me at an inconvenience!”
Dr. Sharon DeVonderpiel, a Professor of Local Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, notes that this cirucumstance offers a unique opportunity to observe what the combined efforts of a community are capable of accomplishing. “The Great Flood of 2010 showed us that Nashville is quite up to the challenge of working together to overcome a crisis” said DeVonderpiel. “Inversely, this is revealing that we are equally capable of coming together to create a crisis. It’s fascinating!
Gas station photo found at http://www.newschannel5.com/news/drivers-line-up-at-gas-stations-amid-shortage-concerns