Hurricane Harvey has left most of Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, flooded and its gas stations without gas. Many stations started seeing their supplies run out before the storm made landfall on Friday.
Before the storm hit, Houston residents took to Twitter to complain that stations were already running out of fuel for their vehicles.
As late as Friday night, Houston Press reported that there were still gas stations with gas. However, Gas Buddy Houston now lists an “unknown” status for the majority of gas stations in the Houston area. However, there are no stations marked “Has Fuel.”
The stations that are listed as “no fuel” on the site are the Chevron at 6951 FM-1960 W & Cutten Rd; Valero at 6301 FM-1960 & Cypresswood Dr and Corner Store at 5626 Treaschwig Rd & Cypresswood. Most stations in The Woodlands and Spring are also listed as “unknown.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner did not issue an evacuation order, instead urging residents to stay home if possible. FEMA Director Brock Long said on Monday that over 30,000 people will seek shelter because of Harvey. The storm is expected to have an impact on gas prices in Houston, as well as the U.S.
On Friday, The Houston Chronicle reported that there were long lines in Houston and throughout the area before the storm hit. Corpus Christi refineries shut down before the storm hit, and more followed suit throughout the storm, CNBC reports. It’s estimated that there could be a loss of over 1 million barrels per day just in Houston and Galveston. For example, Shell shut down its Deer Park refinery, which has a capacity for 340,000 barrels a day.
“There remains a lot of uncertainty in the market,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a statement. “Uncertainty of the extent of the damages, and how long before operations are fully restored. Motorists should expect higher prices this week. It’s still early know how much prices will rise, but a minimum of 10-30 cents would not be a surprise.”
As GasBuddy Houston notes that the current Houston average was $2.12 a gallon before the storm. The site notes that some stations were selling gas under $2.00. You could find gas for $1.95/gallon at a Costco on 12405 Gessner Rd & Mills Rd; the Shah Food Mart on 6275 Griggs Rd & Telephone Rd and at a Raceway on 13135 FM-1960 W near US-290. There were stations outside in the Houston area that are between $1.93/gallon and $1.95/gallon.
GasBuddy listed several high prices at gas stations that near $3/gallon, but these prices haven’t been updated in several hours. The highest-priced gas station listed was a Shell on 1219 N SH-6 & Park Row Dr that was selling gas for $2.99/gallon. However, the last update for this station was Saturday afternoon.
Price gouging of gas and other necessities is a major cause for concern during and after any natural disaster. KHOU reports that residents sent them photos of bottled water at exorbitant prices. One man told the station he paid $72 for four cases of water. This is illegal during a natural disaster and the Attorney General’s office said they received over 75 complaints before the storm hit. You can click here to file a consumer complaint with the Texas Attorney General or click here to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
The decision by Turner and other Houston officials not to call for an evacuation was influenced by the dangerous Hurricane Rita evacuation in 2005. As the Associated Press reported at the time, cars ran out of gas or broke down during the traffic back-up. NPR reported that the gas shortage held up the evacuation and that just 10 percent of gas stations along major freeways had any gas.
Houston could see up to 50 inches of rain from Harvey, which is now a tropical storm. Weather.com notes that Houston has seen 30 inches or rain since Thursday night.