The hurricanes, which recently hit the Gulf Coast back-to-back, forced refinery shutdown in anticipation of the storms (prior to Gustav), and power outages during the storms slowed the process of restarting the refineries. Pipelines that ship oil from Gulf Coast refineries to Southeastern petroleum facilities were alternately stopped and slowed by the issues above.
To someone who's never seen lines for gas pumps in his life, the experience was surreal. One particular line on Friday night in midtown Atlanta stretched 15-plus cars long, with some residents claiming to have driven from outlying suburbs as far as 20 miles away. The eclectic mix of Sentras, Land Rovers, Volvos, and taxicabs, waiting in frustrated resignation on Cheshire Bridge Road (known citywide for its assortment of liquor stores, tattoo parlors, nightclubs, and "adult establishments"), was nearly as effective a leveler of social class as that great New York City melting pot: the subway. The moment could only have been made more complete if Garth and Wayne had driven up in their sputtering AMC Pacer.
Could this Southeast phenomenon be a chilling harbinger of energy crises yet to come?--Colin Mathews