While some businesses and organizations are gearing up to help with evacuation efforts in Florida, some are looking to make a profit.
Fox News reports that Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general (R), said she received 45 complaints that Chevron was raising the price of gas and stated, “You cannot inflate prices during the time of a hurricane for essential commodities. She also issued a stern warning to any that tried. “My immediate concern is to get people out of Florida…[But] if you’re a bad business we are coming after you.”
AccuWeather reports that the category 5 hurricane is supposed to make landfall in Florida by the weekend. Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather, says a hurricane this bad hasn’t been seen since 1992. “There will be massive damage in Florida. [It will be] the worst single hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.”
Florida has issued evacuation orders for Pinellas County and a number of coastal areas, according to Weather.com. Governor Rick Scott (R), warned citizens they had only one day to leave before the hurricane strikes on Saturday. During a press conference, he stated, “Time is running out. Today is the day to do what’s right for your family and get inland for safety.”
He also closed all public schools, colleges, universities, and state offices to ensure they could be used as shelters. “Floridians are facing a life-threatening storm in Hurricane Irma and every family must prepare to evacuate,” Gov. Scott said. “Our state’s public schools serve a vital role in our communities as shelters for displaced residents and staging areas for hurricane recovery efforts. Closing public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will provide local and state emergency officials the flexibility necessary to support shelter and emergency response efforts.”
To facilitate this, Scott has implemented a number of measures to ensure these future shelters have enough supplies, including gasoline. He also requested that gas stations in the area remain open as long as possible so evacuees could have the gasoline needed to escape and wouldn’t clog the highways if they ran out.
It seems Chevron, in the Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, saw the influx of customers and decided to raise its prices to cash in on the desperate evacuees. Attorney General Bondi says she’s demanded that Chevron executives report to her as to why the prices were raised.
At the beginning of the week, accusations were coming in that airlines were jacking-up their prices in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, according to the Miami Herald. Prices were jumping as high as $3,000 per person for outgoing flights from southern Florida.
Recently, however, airlines have come together to drop their prices and add seats to their flights, reports The Washington Post. JetBlue was the first to start the trend and began offering $99 one-way tickets for evacuees. Other airlines like American, Delta, and United quickly followed suit.
Though the Chevron gas stations were likely following business practices related to supply and demand, exploiting a desperate situation is unacceptable. Hopefully, with the attorney general’s warning, they and other businesses will start facilitating evacuation efforts.
Governor Scott has also stated that those gas stations that cooperate will receive police escorts for the employees in order to help them get out of the area.
In this time of crisis we must all do what we can to help.