By Amber Pope,
Complications from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have made gas scarce in portions of the Southeast. Parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolinas have been the hardest hit. Oil refineries were shut down for both hurricanes, and refineries remained at a lower production rate due to power outages in Texas.
Cumulatively this is equivalent to about a month without gas production. Other parts of the country have been able to supplement normal supply with gasoline reserves. This was not an option for the Southeast. There are no refineries in the region and no locations set for mass storage.
The shortage has meant empty pumps, long lines at gas stations with a supply, and higher prices in affected cities.
There have been a myriad of reactions by frustrated drivers who face lines and escalating prices. Fights over gas have started fights, some of which have required police intervention in Asheville. On the other end of the spectrum, there have been instances where drivers have gathered outside their cars to talk and even share snacks while they wait.
The low supply of gasoline has increased the demand of drivers, as they may be unsure when more gas will be available. Drivers are topping-off their tanks unnecessarily, further depleting the supply. People in affected areas have been advised to limit driving and take advantage of public transit systems.
Cullowhee has been heavily affected by the shortage. Students and faculty may be relieved to know that the shortage is nearing its end. Gary Harris, the executive director of North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers, predicted in an interview with USA Today that, “It may take two to four more weeks for the supply of gasoline to reach usual capacity in Southeastern states.”
As the shortage may not be resolved before Fall Break, students traveling over the break are encouraged to form carpools if possible.