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North Carolina governor:
Stay home for Labor Day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Far from the mayhem caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi, some are beginning to fret about the availability of gasoline along the mid-Atlantic Coast.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley is urging people to stay at home for the Labor Day weekend and save gasoline.

“This is not only a state problem, this is also a regional and national problem,” Easley said at a news conference in Raleigh. “We’re not out of gas, but we are running low. We must take steps to conserve our resources while we learn the full extent of the problems and while Washington works toward a regional and national strategy.”

Cape Hatteras, N.C., ravaged by Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 (NASA photo)

“I am immediately suspending all non-essential state government travel. I am asking state employees to carpool wherever possible,” the Democrat added. “North Carolina understands hurricanes. We have been through them and we know that we will weather this one as we have in the past.”

Gasoline prices in the Outer Banks of North Carolina jumped some 30 cents in 24 hours to hover around the $3 per gallon mark last night, and much of the state’s supply of fuel has been cut.

“I don’t know when my next load is going to arrive,” Dennis O’Shell, owner of Nags Head Shell, told the Virginian-Pilot. “Right now, it’s a day-to-day thing.”

Two pipelines that supply gasoline to much of the South went dry Monday, but one was restored with reduced capacity by yesterday. An official with the AAA Carolinas said supplies would likely be limited for a time, but citizens shouldn’t panic.

“If people are running out and filling their tanks now, they’re making the problems worse,” AAA’s Tom Crosby told the Pilot. “They’re creating an unusual spike in demand. Unfortunately, as Americans, we’re more interested in the me, me, me than collectively solving the problem.”

Michael Harden of Rocky Mount, N.C., had planned on taking his family to visit in-laws in the Outer Banks this weekend, but canceled his plans after gas prices approached the $3 mark.

My wife works in Wilson and in Rocky Mount; she’ll probably have to quit one of [her jobs],” he told the Rocky Mount Telegram. “By the time she gets lunch and buys gas, she’s working for free.”

Those wishing to contribute to hurricane relief efforts can donate to the American Red Cross online or by calling 1-800-435-7669.

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