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Expert: Don’t panic at the pump

Looking for someone to blame for the spike in prices?

If you were part of wave of consumers to flood local gas stations late Thursday and Friday, AAA spokesman Clay Ingram says pick up a mirror.

“It’s the absolute worst thing you can do, without question, far and away,” said Clay Ingram, spokesman for AAA. “There is absolutely no need for it.”

Ingram said supply disruptions created by Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico would create a “hiccup” in the supply system that would be corrected quickly if not for the run on gasoline created by panic buying.

“I just can’t believe this,” Linden resident Michael Lewis said. Lewis also spoke to the Times Thursday while he filling up his truck on Highway 80 but felt the need to come in to top off Friday night. “It’s funny that I’m here. I know people panicking created this problem and I stand here before you tonight as part of the problem. You ride by the station and see the line of cars and you hear about how we may run out. It scares you. You’ve got to stop and get some gas. If you don’t and we run out, that’s it. It may be days before you can get back to work.”

Ingram said major supply disruptions were not likely but the damage may already have been done with the influx of drivers Thursday and Friday.

“You need to buy as little (gas) as possible, just enough to get you through the next several days,” he said. “The more you buy, the more panic you create. That is going to drive prices through the roof it that will take the supply that much longer to correct itself and it will keep prices up that much longer.”

Governor Bob Riley on Friday afternoon declared a state of emergency for Alabama after he received new information from the U.S. Department of Energy that energy shortages will likely occur in the state due to Hurricane Ike.

The Governor’s declaration notes that “disruption of essential utility services, systems and severe energy shortages will likely occur.”

In the meantime, Lewis said it was a seller’s market at the pumps.

“I feel better knowing I’ve done all I can to make sure I can make ever how long it takes,” he said. “It’s just a question of how long will this last and how long can I make this tank of gas last.”

Prices in Demopolis remained fairly steady Friday night – virtually unchanged from the day before – despite reports of spikes of up to $4.99 in Cullman County.