Driving in Southeast is no gas
A fuel pump is wrapped up in Seabrook, Texas, after gasoline was in short supply due to residents evacuating in advance of Hurricane Ike.
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KAI RYSSDAL: The good news is that Hurricane Kyle doesn't look like it's going to be that big a deal. The National Weather Service says the storm's going to miss the United States. The bad news is oil and gas production haven't really recovered from Ike and Gustav yet. About 60 percent of crude production in the Gulf of Mexico is still offline. And refineries are just now getting back on line. That's almost two weeks after the storm. That disruption has led to serious gas shortages in parts of the Southeast.
From WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina, Julie Rose reports.
JULIE ROSE: For the last three days, gas pumps in Charlotte have seemed to fuel more panic than cars. Most pumps are completely empty and long lines are causing traffic jams at the few stations that do have gas. Anxious drivers have even taken to following fuel trucks off the freeway with portable gas cans in hand.
Station manager Jackson Tannous got only half his normal gas shipment on Wednesday. He's trying to make it last by limiting purchases to $25.
JACKSON TANNOUS: They want more, but we wanna give everybody gas.
Barbara Smith drove from one empty pump to another for nearly an hour before arriving here on fumes.
BARBARA SMITH: I thought they was gonna have to push me up to the pump!
Cities in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have felt a similar pinch. They all rely on the same pipeline that comes from the Gulf Coast. A large shipment of gas is expected in Charlotte by the weekend. But Carol Gifford of AAA says . . .
CAROL GIFFORD: It will take about 7 to 10 days still until we see more normal flow of gasoline through the pipeline.
Until then, local officials are pleading with motorists to drive less and fill up only when absolutely necessary -- if they can even find gas to pump.
In Charlotte, I'm Julie Rose, for Marketplace.