CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is now impacting gas stations in central Virginia.
Drivers in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas are traveling from station to station hoping to find gas, with prices as high as $3.85 per gallon.
All of this is being driven by the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, the system that delivers 45% of the gas to the East Coast is the victim of the ransomware.
While this is an inconvenience to consumers, suppliers are suffering as well.
“Colonial Pipeline is the main artery by which we secure almost all of our fuel,” Tiger Fuel President Gordon Sutton said.
Sutton says no one should be mistaken that the shortages are 100% due to the pipeline hacking.
“There has been some sort of confusion around whether or not the driver shortages were causing problems that we’re seeing at the pump right now,” Sutton said.
However, gas station employees and managers say panic buying also plays a huge role.
Scores of cars were lined up at a number of gas stations around the Charlottesville area, including the Fifth Street Exxon and the Sunoco on East High St.
“It’s a panic,” said Brandy Anderson, the deli manager at The Mobile. “Everybody’s panicking just like the toilet paper supply. Everybody ran to get toilet paper so today is gas day.”
Anderson said her Exxon station has 24 pumps, but by the time we spoke with her at 3:30 p.m., they were all empty.
“The other employees here had to go out and break up fights,” she said. “We had customers hitting the machines, pulling off with gas tanks, being rude, calling names.”
Anderson is asking for people to be patient, and she’s not alone.
“It’s not [going to] last that long, so there’s nobody who needs to be in a panic,” said Willie Mae Berry, an employee at the Preston Avenue Exxon. “We just need to work together and do whatever we have to do to get through this.”
Both Berry and Anderson say they usually run out of gas by the end of the day, but how early they ran out on Tuesday was unusual.
Patience isn’t all they want from customers, though.
“Just be kind,” Anderson said. “I mean, we’re here to do our jobs, we’re here to serve you. I mean some of us don’t have gas to get home or we might struggle to have gas to get back and forth to work, but we’re here. We’re trying.”
Tiger Fuel does not yet know when gas prices and availability will return to normal but is not expecting it to be soon.