Gas shortage continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

The massive lines and panic of the day before dwindled down Thursday as gas stations around Alabama ran out of regular – and in some cases all types of – gasoline.

For some stations it could be days before another gas delivery is made.

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“Hopefully, Saturday we may get a load,” said Gene Hisel, the owner of the Raceway on Highland Avenue. “Hopefully. (But) that’s being very optimistic.”

A phone survey of gas stations around town revealed most were low or out of regular all together. Prices fluctuated from $2.63 to $2.99 a gallon for regular around town.

But Hisel said some of the stations that are out of regular are not bothering to change their signs.

“When Raceway called me and said we had to go up they said ‘you’re out of regular, you might as well leave the sign,” he said.

Hisel however said that isn’t how he does business and went ahead and changed the sign to show a 40-cent increase from the day before.

Yesterday at Hisel’s station, prices were $2.99 for regular, $3.09 for medium and $3.19 for premium.

“I think the price is going to go up again,” Hisel said.

For the consumers the pinch is tough, but they have to have gas.

Misty Wilson, who waited in line at Wal-Mart for 30 minutes in order to get gas, said things are getting out of hand.

“I think these gas prices are getting ridiculous. I almost can’t afford to drive my car anymore,” she said. more,” she said.

“I know that a lot of this probably has to do with the hurricane, but something needs to be done.”

Cedric Reiner, who also got his gas from the Wal-Mart station, agreed.

“I think people are really worried (about the rising gas prices),” he said. “It’s hurting Selma. It’s getting too expensive to go anywhere.”

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said something has to be done and challenged the federal government to provide some relief.

“I am making a public call out to the President and Congress to address this issue,” Perkins said. “It’s important to the citizens at the local level. It’s important to have gas.

“I believe it’s cheaper to buy an airplane ticket to Atlanta than it is to drive my car.”

Wednesday afternoon Selma, and towns across the south, saw a run on gas that included some hoarding as people prepared for shortages.

“I think it was the Labor Day weekend,” Hisel said, adding that people were preparing to go out of town.

He said that when gas gets delivered again, he expects a similar scene to Wednesday.

“There are too many people in town that don’t have fuel,” he said. “If people continue to panic, a load of fuel will last a day and a half.”

According to the AP, industry experts said the public is overreacting to rumors of a shortage, and supplies will be adequate if motorists will quit trying to fill up every vehicle and every gas can available.

“Use common sense. Chill out,” said Dean Peeler, executive director of the Alabama Petroleum Council, which represents the major oil companies in Alabama.

The AP reported that the rumors about shortages – sparked by the shutdown of refineries and pipelines on the Gulf Coast because of the hurricane – caused a rush at stations in Alabama and other Southern states that started Wednesday.

The long lines continued Thursday, and prices rose with demand, topping $3 in some parts of the state.

“I bet there was a week’s worth of gas sold in Montgomery yesterday,” said Raymond Demere, president of Entec in Montgomery.

Four of his seven stations in the Montgomery area ran out of gas Wednesday but were restocked Thursday and still experiencing lines.

Demere told the AP that the public, not the oil industry, was creating the problem.

“The system is not set up for everybody to get gas on the same day,” he said. “If people will return to their normal practices of buying gas about once a week stations can keep up with the demand,”

he said.

Still, area suppliers don’t seem sure when more fuel is coming.

Hisel said he expects a load of fuel by Saturday, maybe.

Some stations in town are optimistic of deliveries today while others say it could be next week before they get a delivery.

Perkins said it might be time to look at alternative methods for getting to work.

“It’s a good idea if we started walking. We were going to do a ‘Walk to Work Day’ anyway as part of our healthcare initiative,” he said. “If you need transportation, then carpool. We can get through this with neighbors working together.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report