It's been over three weeks since Hurricane Ike hit Houston. North Carolina is still reeling.
Did anyone think the gasoline shortage here, widely traced to storm-related shutdowns of Houston-area oil refineries, would last this long? If so, more power to them. State officials certainly didn't seem to think so, since they've offered little but reassurances for days. It's about over, they say; the pipeline is full again.
Except that plastic grocery bags still cover two thirds of the pumps at many gas stations, particularly west of Raleigh. Although fewer stations are out of gas than was the case a week or two ago, most have only regular to sell. And prices, while not extreme, are above the national average.
Not to discount the seriousness of the storm-related disruptions, but could this be a quiet protest by suppliers against North Carolina's anti-price gouging law? Put another way, is that law part of the problem?
One thing drivers have learned is that today's engines, even if designed to run on premium, do pretty well on lower-priced regular. One thing state officials should learn is that they've been too optimistic about when things will return to normal. Ike has sent us a message we need to consider.