By MEGAN TILK
St. Joseph News-Press
Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas, the effects on fuel prices could be felt throughout St. Joseph. On Friday, most gas stations across the city had prices ranging from $3.50 to $3.53 per gallon for unleaded. Overnight, that price jumped by as much as 15 cents at some stations.
On Saturday, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt directed Attorney General Jay Nixon to investigate gasoline suppliers and stations for potential evidence of price gouging in response to Hurricane Ike.
The Gulf of Mexico coast along Louisiana and Texas is home to 42 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Many refineries located along the gulf were either shut down or without power due to Ike, according to Mr. Blunt’s office.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the state took legal action against 10 stations relating to gas prices.
While many gas stations in St. Joseph along the Belt Highway, Frederick Boulevard and in Downtown listed prices in the lower $3.60 range, two stations in St. Joseph’s South Side had gas for $3.49.
Some people took advantage of prices in the $3.50 range at the Sam’s Club-Wal-Mart station, which had gas at $3.50 for members and $3.55 for nonmembers.
Debbie Scherer, from Atchison, Kan., said Saturday that she didn’t really notice an effect from Hurricane Ike.
“The gas prices go up anyway,” Ms. Scherer said. “The hurricane is just another excuse.”
Ms. Scherer said she tries to keep an eye on prices, regardless of the weather.
Michelle Nelson of St. Joseph took advantage of the member benefits and got her gas for $3.50 a gallon.
“I don’t think we needed the hurricane to affect the already high gas prices,” Ms. Nelson said.
Hurricane Ike was downgraded to a tropical storm around 2 p.m. Saturday and looks to affect more than just gas prices in the area.
Officials from the National Weather Service say Tropical Storm Ike will continue to make its way into Arkansas and Southeast Missouri today, bringing heavy rain to areas south of Kansas City.
Rain from Ike will also make its way into our area, where flood watches and warnings have remained in effect for more than 24 hours and will continue to remain in effect through much of today.