September 22, 2005--Posted at 10:18 PM CST
JONESBORO--We learned from Hurricane Katrina how nature can affect our lives. And so did the Federal Government. They are planning for the worst as Hurricane Rita, the second major hurricane in less than a month, steadies to smash the Gulf Coast.
And so are our residents, planning for the possibility that gas prices will spike even further.
I went to Sam's Club to observe patrons waiting for gas. It looked like a scene from the 70's; the energy crisis with gas rationing and long lines.
It wasn't Houston residents filling up with gas, it was Jonesboro's residents.
They are weary. When Hurricane Katrina pounded Louisiana last month, more than 10% of the countries refining capacities was halted. Now we have Rita and she has her sights set on the heart of the nations oil supply, the Texas Gulf Coast, which has the largest concentration of oil refineries in the world.
There are two dozen refineries from Corpus Christie to Lake Charles, LA that refine more than 4.5 million barrels of oil a day. President of the American Petroleum Institute, Red Cavaney, says companies are making the maximum effort to prepare for Rita.
Cavaney said, "The shutdown or any anticipated shutdown of that capacity could affect U.S. gasoline markets since more than 5% of U.S. refining capacity has already been shutdown by Katrina."
And that is why they wait, because gas is already on the rise.
Elaina Stanton, a Jonesboro resident, said, "I have to travel for work tomorrow, I just wish I would have gotten it this morning when it was 10 cents cheaper."
To get from the end of the line to the pump was nearly 30 minutes; long enough for some vehicles to over heat.
Leslie Jackson says she waited because she knows if she doesn't fill up now, she'll pay more tomorrow.
Jackson said, "I don't want to pay a whole bunch to fill up again, because prices just came down and I am not looking forward to them going back up."
Some even brought 55 gallon drums in the back of their trucks to beat ascent in prices.
The amount of damage that Rita will cause is not known. What is known is that people will have to watch their dollars in the near future.