2005-09-07 / Front Page

Gasoline scare sends drivers to the pumps

By Anne Marie Kyzer True Citizen Staff Writer

At left, long lines at Wal-Mart called for law enforcement supervision. At right, DelMac ran out of gas last Wednesday.

One week after drivers rushed to the pumps to fill their tanks in fear of a shortage, gas prices have settled into a more stable range.

Rumors of gas shortages due to Hurricane Katrina drew long lines at local gas stations last Wednesday and some stations remain out of gas after dolling out such large amounts.

While most stations have been allocated enough gas to satisfy drivers, gas supplies are tight enough to keep some stores wondering when they will get another shipment.

Hurricane damage caused prices to increase temporarily, leaping to almost $3.50 last Wednesday, but partially restored supplies and measures by the state have eased the prices back into the $2.75 range.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed an executive order last Thursday that waived gasoline taxes, saying, “The state moratorium will mean that consumers who were paying $3 per gallon at the pump will save more than 15 cents per gallon in taxes.” The Department of Transportation lifted truck driving restrictions, thereby allowing deliveries 24 hours a day. The Environmental Protection Division waived state requirements for higher additive gasoline during summer months until Sept. 15. They are also allowing farmers and foresters to use off-road diesel for on-road purposes until Sept. 15.

Avner DeLaigle, owner of A&A Minit Mart on Highway 23, said the waiving of the gas tax will “help all of us.”

“I pass it on,” he said of the savings. “We try to keep our gas prices where we can make a little profit. We don’t railroad anybody.”

DeLaigle said he is combating the high gas costs by avoiding buying a full load at one time, so he wouldn’t get “hung with high prices.”

While local car dealer William Mizell said the gas shortage panic didn’t hurt his sales, he said, “We have already seen people going to more fuel efficient cars.” He noted that he sold out of one model on his lot that gets 30 miles to the gallon.

He said additional price increases will “make us re-evaluate our driving patterns.”

“This is going to be a bump in the road,” he concluded. “We are going to have to get used to higher gas prices.”

According to Molly Banks with the Burke County school system, gas prices have not affected school operations.

The system had just received a shipment large enough to last for two weeks when the panic hit last Wednesday.

A news release from the Governor’s office discouraged drivers from topping off their tanks and asked them to wait until their tanks are low.

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