Gov. Bush: No gas shortage after Wilma
Florida leader asks residents to refrain from hoarding fuel
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POMPANO BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- Gov. Jeb Bush told Floridians on Thursday there is no gasoline shortage, only a temporary distribution problem caused by power outages throughout the southeastern part of the state.
At the few gas stations that had electricity, cars were lined up for blocks. The governor urged residents not to hoard fuel.
Bush said Florida Power and Light officials told him they will focus on restoring power to gas stations along major roads after electric substations have been repaired.
More than 200 of the 500 substations in South Florida were damaged by Wilma, Bush said.
The governor said plenty of water, ice and food can be found at distribution centers, but he has asked for help from other states to get through the crisis caused by Hurricane Wilma, which hit Monday.
"We have basically made a call out to the rest of the United States of America for a short period of time, anybody who's got water, ice or some version of a MRE (meals ready to eat), we would take everything they've got," Bush said.
The governor's brother -- President Bush -- spent several hours touring south Florida and meeting with officials Thursday.
"Things don't happen instantly, but things are happening," the president said.
About a third of the 6 million people who lost power after the Category 3 storm cut across the bottom of the peninsula have had their electricity restored, reported Florida Power and Light.
But the most populated counties -- Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach -- may have to wait up to 25 days, the utility said.
Broward County Mayor Kristen Jacobs said oil companies have promised to rush electric generators to their stations so they can reopen.
On Wednesday, the governor accepted blame for distribution troubles that have forced many to wait in long lines for free government water and ice, he also suggested that some residents failed to stock up adequately in advance of the storm.
"People had ample time to prepare," Gov. Bush said. "And it isn't that hard to get 72 hours' worth of food and water ... just to do the simple things that we ask people to do."
U.S. tourists returning from Cozumel
About 650 Americans stranded for about a week in Cozumel, Mexico, are returning to the United States on a cruise ship, the State Department said Thursday.
Several thousand people remain in the tourist city of Cancun and a few dozen are still in Merida, officials said.
Sixty-five U.S. consular officers are in the area, visiting shelters and hotels to make sure Americans have the supplies they need and trying to assist them with transportation.
About 18 flights are expected to leave Cancun on Thursday, officials said.
About 8,000 Americans came home on Tuesday and Wednesday.
CNN's Jim Polk contributed to this report.
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