Post-hurricane panic: Yeah, we has it

How many times have you heard the old “You can smell I’m in New Jersey” jokes? The odor is a combination of swampland and oil refineries.

Well, here’s what happens when two of those odor-causing refineries go offline after a hurricane:

Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Energy reported four of six Northeast refineries affected by Hurricane Sandy had resumed operations at either normal or reduced capacities. Two refineries remained shut, including the large Phillips 66 refinery in Linden, which produces about 238,000 barrels a day.

“When you lose one of the largest refineries, that could have an impact (on supply),” said Laskoski. “There’s a small number of refineries in the Northeast to start with.”

That isn’t what’s causing the gas line problems, though. It’s idiots who have nowhere to go trying to top off their tanks and causing gas shortages.

The biggest problem, experts said, is that consumers are panicking and rushing to the pumps. In some cases, they see the lines, assume there’s a dire situation and decide they need to top off the tank.

Then, a type of herd mentality develops, sparking chaos across the Garden State.

“Unfortunately, that’s very typical behavior after a hurricane,” said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, a website that tracks gasoline trends. “Even if they know their car is going to stay parked, they still panic and go and fill up the tank. It exacerbates the problem.”

“It adds to severity of the price spikes and prolongs the time it takes for things to return to what might be considered normal,” he added.

My nephew spent an hour and 45 minutes in a gas line. When he got home, my brother told him about the 1970s, when our father sent us kids to go fill up his tank on odd/even days, and WE got to sit in line for hours.

Everything old is new again. Oh, and my [formerly] fellow NJans are adding fights to the mix. Video at the link.

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