Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

Gas, flights, Publix: All consumers need to know after Irma

Now that Hurricane Irma has barreled past Florida, many Tampa Bay area businesses are assessing damages and preparing to reopen.

Some companies are calling workers back in Tuesday, but check first before heading to a specific retailer or service. Several bank websites, for instance, said they remained closed but as of Monday afternoon had not cited a re-opening date.

LIVE BLOG: Latest updates on Hurricane Irma.

COMPLETE COVERAGE:Find all our coverage about Hurricane Irma here

Here's a list of what consumers can expect across the region.

When and where can I get gas?

As Tampa Bay and the rest of Florida try to get back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Irma, drivers are being warned to use gas sparingly.

The state and the region saw widespread gasoline outages during the week leading up to the storm. Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida Highway Patrol escorts for fuel supplies to be shuttled to gas stations. Now in the wake of Irma, suppliers are trying to keep gas stations full of fuel, but motorists should be prepared for scarce supply as Florida evacuees return to their homes in large numbers. Gas stations not located along major highways should have an easier time keeping supplies, according to a press release from AAA, The Auto Group, which tracks gas prices and supplies.

"Florida evacuees should plan their return home very carefully," said Mark Jenkins. AAA spokesman said in a statement. " Expect congestion on the roadways, as the first few days after the storm will be the busiest. Pay close attention to traffic reports. Ensure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Do not let your fuel gauge fall below a quarter tank before you start looking for a place to refuel."

Florida does not have crude oil refineries and relies on petroleum products delivered by tanker and barge to Florida ports, including Port Tampa Bay, which was closed during the storm.

The Tampa port is expected to reopen at 2 p.m. Tuesday. It reported only minor damage and flooding.

Three petroleum vessels are expected to bring fuel into Port Tampa Bay when it reopens to deliver to Tampa Bay area gas stations and across Central Florida.

Can I go shopping?

Odds are good. Many of the malls will be opening their doors in the morning. Tyrone Square, for instance, will re-open at 10 a.m. Tuesday; International Plaza at 10 a.m; and University Mall at 10:30 a.m.

When will flights resume?

The St. Pete-Clearwater Airport announced it will reopen on Tuesday and resume flights on Wednesday. The airport closed Friday after Hurricane Irma was forecast to pass over Tampa Bay. It said while the building will open on Tuesday flights will resume on Wednesday.

Tampa International Airport officials said they planned to resume limited operations Tuesday with a gradual build-up to a full schedule in following days.

When will grocery stores re-open?

Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and most other grocery stores closed Saturday in advance of the storm.

Publix stores tentatively plan to re-open in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties on Tuesday, weather permitting. Officials with Winn-Dixie and Walmart say stores will open immediately when the conditions are safe. Check retailers' websites and social media accounts for alerts about when specific stores will re-open.

What about cruise ships?

Travelers aboard the Carnival Paradise cruise ship that had departed from Tampa last week left Cozumel at 2 p.m. Monday to make their way back to Port Tampa Bay or Port Canaveral, depending on availability.

The Carnival ship will arrive in Florida on Wednesday. If docked in Port Canaveral, guests may choose to be transferred to Tampa, or the Orlando airport, by bus or remain at Port Canaveral until Carnival returns the ship to Port Tampa Bay next Saturday.

Times staff writer Sara DiNatale and Tierra Smith contributed to this report.

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18