They think there isn’t any, so there isn’t any
Because one company posted that they were only filling half of their stations after Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas, many people panicked and assumed that there would be no gas anywhere very shortly.
There are multiple companies that own and operate gas stations here in Texas, but that didn’t register for many people. They had to get gas now! This threw the service stations off their normal schedules so prices surged in an effort to slow down demand. The only problem with that is price gouging is illegal in Texas. Many people shared pictures of astronomically high prices that were reported to the proper state officials. Some of them even paid the higher prices because they really needed gas!
There was no shortage until there was one. People got into fights (online & offline) or ran out of gas looking for a place to fill up because of an emotionally charged rumor. ONE company reported to the media that they would reduce their supply. Just one!
I don’t like crowds; they make me nervous for this very reason. I would just as soon walk where I need to go than surround myself with people in panic. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They thought there wasn’t going to be enough gas, so, there is no gas; at least, that’s what the stations posted on the pumps. I wouldn’t be surprised if some stores just shut off the tanks and posted signs to keep panicked people from depleting their fuel.
The fact that there are plenty of Texas refineries that were not affected by the hurricane didn’t come to many peoples minds. People can argue either side, but the arguement won’t cause people to calm down. Once we feel we’re right about something, we will defend our belief even if it isn’t valid. So, I feel the best thing to do is to acknowledge people’s emotional state and give them some space until they request our help, especially since there are many people who no longer have a vehicle to put gas in.