MIAMI – Florida gas stations are still hurting for fuel Tuesday as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Irma.
About 43% of gas stations in Florida are dry, according to the crowdsourcing platform GasBuddy.
But the shortages are worse in several major cities around the state. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region, for example, about 60% of stations don't have fuel. Same for Gainsville.
Florida areas struggle with gas shortage after Irma
About half of the gas stations in Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee and Fort Meyers were also without fuel, according to GasBuddy.
That's not much of a change from what the website reported Monday. Shortages are likely to remain until ports in Florida's major cities reopen. The state has few refineries of its own and tankers and barges will have to deliver virtually all of its fuel.
"As long as the ports are closed, the normal flow of fuel -- it's just not there," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. "Until the normal flow of fuel returns, I think we're still at risk for seeing these numbers lift."
Ports in Tampa Bay and Miami planned to reopen Tuesday, which could help the situation improve.
Officials at Port Tampa Bay, the state's largest port, told CNNMoney on Monday that the port suffered "very minimal" damage. Three petroleum vessels are scheduled to deliver fuel to once the port reopens.
When will Florida get gas back?
Logistical challenges could still hamper fuel supply to gas stations. According to GasBuddy, anywhere from 33% to 46% of stations in some of the state's biggest cities are without power.
Some gas stations may have also suffered damage from the hurricane, while others could be blocked by road closures.
Florida officials scrambled before Irma hit to ease the gas shortage. The state's ports prioritized fuel shipments and Governor Rick Scott provided police escorts to tanker trucks. Scott also encouraged gas stations along evacuation routes to stay open late by offering gas station workers police escorts to make sure they got out before the storm hit.
The federal government has offered assistance as well by waiving restrictions on the types of cargo ships that can deliver fuel and on the types of fuel that can be used in Florida and other states.
Advocates fear for poor Florida Keys residents
Beyond the luxurious mansions and beachfront resorts are thousands of Florida Keys residents living on the brink of poverty. Advocates say these are the people facing massive hurdles as hurricane clean up begins.
Stephanie Kaple runs the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless. She says many people who work in hotels and restaurants are already living paycheck to paycheck.
The string of tropical islands that stretch south from Florida, connected by bridges, are home to about 70,000 people, with about 13 percent living in poverty.
In addition to providing shelter and recovery service, Kaple said her organization helps prevent homelessness by paying emergency rent, air conditioner repairs and medical bills for community members in need.
She said that despite support from the United Way and Monroe County, those funds, post hurricane, will soon be running out.
Mayor vows to work on restoring power to homes
Miami Beach's mayor said hospitals, police and fire stations were getting power restored first.
But Mayor Philip Levine also said he sympathized with residents who lacked relief from the heat in the barrier island city across the water from downtown Miami.
Levine said in an emailed statement Tuesday that he would exert what pressure he could on Florida Power and Light to do repairs as fast as possible for residents.
Levine said: "I promise you that I will use the full force of my office to continue to put pressure on FPL to get our community's power restored so we can return to normalcy."
After Irma, Florida's evacuees contemplate return trip
Thanks to reconnaissance by a neighbor who stayed behind, Pam Szymanksi knows Hurricane Irma blew out the living room window of her southwest Florida home, but she isn't sure when she'll get to see the damage for herself.
"All I know is we have to check out of here tomorrow, because they're booked," she said Monday, sitting in the lobby of a downtown Atlanta hotel where she arrived with her mother, two children and two dogs. A hotel reservation in Valdosta, Georgia, is next, Szymanksi said, but that's still 350 miles (563 kilometers) from their home in Fort Myers.
"I don't want to run into closed roads," she said, "but I want to get home and start cleaning up."
Szymanski's family helped make up one of the largest storm evacuation efforts in U.S. history, after Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged more than 6.5 million residents, one out of four of his constituents, to leave.
Now, with Irma advancing inland, a potential reverse migration from across the Southeast raises new worries of jammed roadways amid uncertain gasoline supplies, empty grocery store shelves, standing water and widespread power outages that in heavily damaged areas could last for weeks.
Scott cautioned evacuees not to rush back home.
"Storm impacts can continue well after the center passes," the governor said from his official Twitter account, asking residents to follow local officials' advice on when to return. He later retweeted FEMA's warning that Irma involves "disruptions to daily activities" long after it passes.
That's not necessarily a message Floridians want to hear, even as they contemplate reliving the daylong and overnight drives they endured just days ago.
Carin and David Atkins of Pinecrest, Florida, were waiting out Irma on Monday, planning to leave their Atlanta hotel Tuesday morning to head back down the Florida peninsula with their children, Molly and Thomas. The Atkinses said they have hotel reservations near Cape Canaveral, more than halfway back to their home outside Miami.
"I've called to confirm they have power," David Atkins said, adding that some businesses near their home have power as well.
Carin Atkins said they can live without power at home for several days, recalling that they went 47 days without power after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. They evacuated, she said, only because of the threat of rising water from a storm surge that didn't reach to their home.
Other evacuees still aren't as sure of their return.
Stephanie Clegg Troxell was near Nashville, Tennessee, where her family caravan includes three cars and a trailer, five adults, five children, 13 dogs, three mini-horses and a pet pig. The trek from New Port Richey, Florida, north of Tampa Bay, took more than 17 hours, beginning last Wednesday.
Troxell said her husband stayed behind and now is working with friends to remove a tree that fell on the roof of their house. They also had no power.
"We don't know when we're leaving and now there's another hurricane coming," Troxell said, referring to Jose, which was offshore. "I'm trying to sneak out when it's not 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour-plus winds."
In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Rea Argonza was worried about money as she mapped out her return plans.
"Staying here, it's been like a financial strain," said Argonza, who traveled with her husband and five children from St. Augustine, Florida, to two hotel rooms 500 miles (805 kilometers) away near the Wake Forest University campus. "We're up to almost a thousand dollars now. I do believe this whole expedition is going to be almost $3,000."
In some cramped quarters, there were parties.
Argonza celebrated her 32nd birthday in North Carolina. Troxell's daughter celebrated her 13th birthday Monday in Tennessee on a trip that's featured visits to the state fair, some nearby waterfalls and the Opryland complex.
Irma claims dozens of lives across Caribbean, United States
The scope and scale of misery caused by Irma continues to grow, including its human toll. Irma, at one point the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, has claimed the lives of dozens of people across the Caribbean and southeastern United States.
Victims include two women in Havana who died when a balcony fell on a bus in which they were riding. A Florida jailhouse guard and sheriff's deputy died after their vehicles collided. A 2-year-old child on Barbuda died when his body was swept away after his home's roof ripped off and the structure filled with water. A
Barbados teen died while surfing as the massive hurricane churned hundreds of miles away.
But the joys of an unplanned excursion may not extend to 70-pound (32-kilogram) swine. Tank, the Troxell family pig, appeared homesick because he can't lounge by the pool like he does at home. "He's missing his tropical scenery," Troxell said.
Caribbean residents describe dire situation as food, water run out
A week after Hurricane Irma struck a string of Caribbean islands, some residents find themselves in darkness, as power remains out and increasingly worried as food and water run scarce.
In the storm's aftermath, residents and tourists described a volatile situation with vexing challenges ahead that have forced people to fend for themselves.
"You listen to the radio. You call. But nobody comes," said Leroy Webb, a resident of St. Maarten, which is the Dutch part of the island. The French side of the island is St. Martin.
"I even don't know how long it will take before people here get food. This morning, my wife was making soup with just two potatoes in it. We have nothing to eat," he told CNN affiliate RTL Netherlands.
Hurricane Irma struck a patchwork of independent island nations and territories in various forms of association with France, the Netherlands, the US and the UK and killed at least 38 people in the Caribbean.
Adam Marlatt, the founder of Global Disaster Immediate Response Team, had a stark assessment speaking from St. John, which is part of the US Virgin Islands.
"The biggest problem," he said, was "not just debris but getting people off the island because there's no sustainable option for them."
He said virtually 100% of the power is damaged or destroyed and that every power line over the roads were down. Marlatt said plans to restore normalcy hadn't begun yet because they were busy trying to chain saw through and search for people who may be stuck inside their homes.