Saturday, July 30, 2005

Molokai residents
frenzied over gas

A rumored shortage prompts
them to the pumps in a panic

KAUNAKAKAI, Molokai » Rumors of an islandwide gas shortage kept Molokai residents rushing to the pumps yesterday for the second consecutive day.

Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello of Rawlins Chevron Service said early last night that the station had enough gas to get to its 9 p.m. closing time, but she did not know if the station's tanks would run dry before more gas was delivered this afternoon.

Although signs were posted at the station's entrance to let people know more gas would arrive today, a steady stream of worried customers still waited to fill up their cars and gas cans, she said.

"We are pretty low," she said.

The day before, Rawlins Chevron owner Shirley Rawlins had to limit customers to $100 worth of gas as they topped off their tanks and loaded gas cans.

"People are bringing more than they should," she said. "Instead of getting $20 worth, they're filling up and bringing containers. I was telling them to be careful with so much gas in the cans; that's dangerous to keep at home. It's really interesting when the panic button hits."

Rumors about the gas shortage spread Thursday when officials with the island's main fuel distributor, Island Petroleum, learned that the arrival of a refueling barge would be delayed by a day.

The barge was unable to dock at Kaunakakai Harbor on Thursday because it was loaded down and floating too low.

The barge, which instead went on to Hilo and Maui, is scheduled to dock in Kaunakakai this afternoon after lightening its load.

Island Petroleum manager Frank Keoho said once the rumor started, it spread quickly.

"There were rumors going around that we were going to be out of gas for a week or a month, and people panicked," he said.

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