Gas prices continue to rise in wake of Hurricane Isaac



ATLANTA - Experts say Hurricane Isaac has caused oil companies to pull workers from rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, curbing production at refineries and driving up oil prices in metro Atlanta.

Prices went up 10 cents overnight, and prices reach as high as $4.19 at one gas station in Buckhead. AAA says the average in metro Atlanta is around $3.90.

A Cobb County gas station owner told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman the effects of Isaac trickle down to him, and he is notified by his supplier when to raise prices.

“When the price of oil goes up, I have to go up. I can’t sell below cost, I lose money,” gas station  owner Ibrahim Musleh said.

Buckhead resident Sims Lamason drives a large SUV and with the price of gas close to $4 a gallon around metro Atlanta, it's causing him to cut costs in other areas.

"Luckily, I don't have to drive a lot but when it costs 60 bucks to fill up your car, it becomes an issue," Lamason told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston.

The price of gas is also an issue for DeKalb resident Gracie Howie.

She is now spending $90 a week to take her children back and forth to school.

"We are now car pooling with other parents to cut the costs of gas. It's ridiculous," she said.

Monday gas was about $3.75 per gallon of regular, in Metro Atlanta; now it's about $3.98 per gallon.

Steve Baker, who represents the Colonial Pipeline Company, said there is plenty of gas in the pipeline and it's up and running, but he can't say the same about the oil refineries in the Gulf Coast states.

"Our biggest concern is loss of power to refineries in the Gulf. If they don't have power to run, that's when we could lose production," Baker said. "We do have generators for the pipeline to keep that going, but the refineries, that's a different story."

Petroleum experts said the price of gas will most likely continue to increase through the Labor Day weekend, when demand is higher and our supply from the Gulf Coast could be less.

Channel 2 Meteorologist David Chandley said the risk for severe weather in metro Atlanta from Isaac is very low.

Isaac brings flooding, power outages to Louisiana

Hurricane Isaac began a slow, drenching slog inland from the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, pushing water over a rural Louisiana levee and stranding some people in homes and cars as the storm spun into a newly fortified New Orleans exactly seven years after Katrina.

Although Isaac was much weaker than the 2005 hurricane that crippled the city, the threat of dangerous storm surges and flooding from heavy rain was expected to last all day and into the night as the immense comma-shaped storm crawled across Louisiana.

Army Corps spokeswoman Rachel Rodi said the city's bigger, stronger levees were withstanding Isaac's assault.

"The system is performing as intended, as we expected," she said. "We don't see any issues with the hurricane system at this point."

There were initial problems with pumps not working at the 17th Street Canal, the site of a breach on the day Katrina struck, but those pumps had been fixed, Rodi said.

Rescuers in boats and trucks plucked a handful of people who became stranded by floodwaters in thinly populated areas of southeast Louisiana. Authorities feared many more could need help after a night of slashing rain and fierce winds that knocked out power to more than 500,000 people.

The extent of the damage was not entirely clear because officials did not want to send emergency crews into harm's way. So far, Plaquemines Parish, a fishing community south of New Orleans, seemed to be the hardest hit.

About two dozen people who stayed behind despite evacuation orders needed to be rescued from the east bank of Plaquemines Parish. The flooding appeared to be widespread.

"We've got problems all across the south," said Kevin Davis, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Two police officers had to be rescued by boat after their car became stuck. Rescuers were waiting for the strong winds to die down before moving out to search for other people.

"The winds are too strong and the rain too strong," Plaquemines Parish spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell said.

Water driven by the large and powerful storm flooded over an 18-mile stretch of one levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans. The levee, one of many across the low-lying coastal zone, is not part of the new defenses constructed in New Orleans after Katrina.

As Isaac's eye Isaac passed over Terrebonne Parish, a fishing village about 40 miles southwest of New Orleans, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said authorities in armored vehicles saved a family after the roof was ripped off their house. He said other people had called wanting to be evacuated.

"I think a lot of people were caught with their pants down. This storm was never predicted right since it entered the Gulf. It was supposed to go to Florida, Panama City, Biloxi, New Orleans," he said. "We hope it loses its punch once it comes in all the way."

Isaac was packing 80 mph winds, making it a Category 1 hurricane. It came ashore at 7:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday near the mouth of the Mississippi River, driving a wall of water nearly 11 feet high inland and soaking a neck of land that stretches into the Gulf.

The storm stalled for several hours before resuming a slow trek inland, and forecasters said that was in keeping with the its erratic history. The slow motion over land means Isaac could be a major soaker, dumping up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. But every system is different.

"It's totally up to the storm," said Ken Graham, chief meteorologist at the National, Weather Service office in Slidell, La.

Isaac's winds and sheets of rain whipped New Orleans, where forecasters said the city's skyscrapers could feel gusts up to 100 mph.


National Guard ready to respond

The Georgia National Guard is ready to respond to hurricane Issac in Alabama and Mississippi.

Channel 2's Ross Cavitt went inside the National Guard's Joint Operations Center on Tuesday to see how the center will help.

The Georgia Guard was watching because if the situation turns bad, the governor of Louisiana or Mississippi may turn to Georgia for help, and Georgia's governor would instantly look to the National Guard.

"We just had a conference call this morning with a number of states that are affected," Georgia Adjutant General Jim Butterworth told Cavitt.

If the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago taught officials anything, it's that a quick and organized response saves lives.

The Georgia Guard's Joint Operations Center is designed to make that happen, to know where the state's potential assets are at any given time, and how quickly they could head to the disaster.

The guard's commander told Cavitt that Louisiana has already been asking those questions.

"They called and say 'Hey. For planning purposes, how many C-130s, how many Chinook helicopters, how many Blackhawk helicopters are there? And we provide that information and we're leaning forward if needed," Butterworth said.

"It's better to have too many conversations about it than not enough. That goes a long way especially in response time and getting enough time to plan, prepare and respond to a natural disaster," said Col. Anthony Abbott of the Georgia National Guard

And if a hurricane takes aim on this state, this new command center's engine would start running at full speed.