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Gas scare hits Bryan County
Long lines at Kroger. - photo by Ross Blair

As the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Ike, Bryan County is feeling effects of the storm in a different way – mainly in the gas tank.

Along with the rest of the Southeast, Bryan is experiencing higher prices and long lines at the pump.

Why? Refineries in Texas have closed, leaving the Southeast with a demand problem that will impact gas prices through the weekend and possibly into the beginning of next week.

Greg Woolard, vice president of the Clyde’s gas station chain, said he’s not going to buy any more gas until prices go down even if it means running out of gas.

"It’s a heck of a mess," Woolard said. "But there’s nothing we can do. We pull our product from the Gulf Coast, so there’s going to very little supply. This weekend’s going to be very tight."

Woolard is positive that gas prices will hover in the $4-$5 range throughout the weekend even if the hurricane doesn’t harm the refineries because it takes time and energy to get the product running again. But, he said, if refineries are spared, then prices should drop fairly quickly next week and if the storm damages refineries, prices will likely remain high.

Some local gas stations, such as the lower-priced Kroger and Raceway, experienced lines that stretched out into the roadway Friday. Richmond Hill resident Terry Pickett was one of many who endured a long wait to reach the pump at a reasonable price.

"I’m just trying to have enough gas to make it through next week," Pickett said. "I don’t think they’ll run out; I’m more afraid they’ll jack the prices up. One rumor is that it’ll get up to $6 a gallon."

Others, like Richmond Hill resident Brian Cooper, chose to pay a bit more for convenience. He passed up the long lines for Raceway’s $3.89 for BP’s $4.29 next door.

"I was actually at Kroger this morning, but I pulled out of line because I got tired of waiting," Cooper said. "I went back just now and gas had gone up 48 cents. I guess it’s coming from the hurricane out in the Gulf, but the crazy thing is the hurricane hasn’t done anything yet and they don’t even know where it’s going. If you want my opinion, somebody’s making some money somewhere."

A representative from the Richmond Hill Raceway station said their regular supplier actually ran out of gas, but they were able to secure some from another distributor in order to keep prices down – for now, anyway.

Phyllis Navarette, manager of the Citgo on Hwy. 17, said there are so many rumors floating around about the current state of gasoline, that she doesn’t know what to believe.

"I’m hearing about gas shortages and that they may start rationing gas. I also heard if they shut down the wells, we’ll be out of gas for 18 days. I’ve also been told that, if they ration, we’ll only get half our delivery. I think all this craziness will pass and gas prices will get back to normal as soon as the hurricane passes through Texas."

- Lauren Hunsberger with the Coastal Courier in Hinesville contributed to this story.

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