UPDATE: Metro Atlantans struggle to find gas despite pipeline restart

Notes are taped to empty gas pumps at Chevron gas station on Canton Road in Marietta on Thursday. Motorists throughout Metro Atlanta still struggled to find gas due to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline distribution network last Friday after a cyberattack. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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Notes are taped to empty gas pumps at Chevron gas station on Canton Road in Marietta on Thursday. Motorists throughout Metro Atlanta still struggled to find gas due to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline distribution network last Friday after a cyberattack. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

The day after Colonial Pipeline relaunched most of its fuel system, finding gas in metro Atlanta remained a scavenger hunt, with rising prices and widespread outages.

Stephen Jones, the general manager of a Suwanee insulation company, thought he’d be just fine.

He had enough diesel left in his work pickup on Thursday to drive about 55 miles after visiting with a customer in Fayette County. He started looking for fuel. And looking. And looking. He finally found some at a station that had signs saying it was out of fuel, but had some when he tried a pump.

“I was down to 13 miles to empty,” he said.

Deerick Hicks and his wife stopped at six exits in search of gas for their Malibu on a drive from Griffin on metro Atlanta’s southside to the Mall of Georgia on the northeast side.

No luck, except for the five cents worth of gas he coaxed out of one gas station pump, followed by a long, agonizing pause and then another 5 cents worth. They shopped briefly at the mall near Buford, but left early, worried about how they’d find enough fuel to make it home. They eventually spotted some in Suwanee.

“That’s crazy,” he said.

According to the crowdsourcing app GasBuddy, 68% percent of metro Atlanta stations were reported to be without fuel late Thursday afternoon. Georgia wide, 49% of stations were out.

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in metro Atlanta ticked up to $3.01, slightly higher than the day before, GasBuddy reported. The average for Georgia was $2.94, up 4 cents.

On Wednesday evening, Alpharetta-based Colonial announced the restart of the flow of fuel after a ransomware attack led to its shutdown on Friday. Its lines from Texas refineries to the Eastern Seaboard supply 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. On Thursday morning, Colonial said fuel delivery had resumed to most of its markets, and a map showed its major lines to Atlanta and through Georgia were operational.

The private company said late Thursday afternoon that deliveries had begun again for all markets. But Colonial warned that it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal and that some areas might have intermittent service during the start-up period.

“The restart of the pipeline is very positive news for motorists,” AAA spokesperson Montrae Waiters wrote in an email. “While impact won’t be seen immediately and motorists in affected areas can expect to see a few more days of limited fuel supply, relief is coming. Station pumps will be full of fuel in several days. This is an especially good update ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.”

Sooner would be better for Schalanda Henderson, an Uber Eats driver from Duluth.

She saw lines for gas on Tuesday and was able to fill up. But she sat out making food deliveries Wednesday and Thursday, worried she’d run out of fuel while working. “I’m scared to go anywhere,” she said.

She was hoping gas supplies would rebound enough for her to return to work Friday and the weekend, normally busy times.

But Jones, the insulation company manager, isn’t expecting that a return to normal that quickly.

He’s instructed crews to fuel up before their trucks go below half a tank, a policy he suspects he’ll keep in force for perhaps a week.

Still, he said, workers lose a lot of time in the hunt for fuel. Some employees have family members who ended up on the side of the road after fuel tanks ran dry.

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