Officials optimistic on gas recovery

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Officials Saturday voiced optimism about an improving gasolinesituation but cautioned residents to expect slower progress inefforts to restore power.

More stations were pumping gasoline Saturday after adistribution point in Collins re-opened and began sending gasolineto more areas of the state.

“That’s going to mean a whole lot,” said Ward Five Alderman D.W.Maxwell during a morning briefing for local officials.

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Police Chief Pap Henderson said Friday was the slowest nighttraffic-wise for his department since Sunday.

“People are beginning to realize we are not in as big a crisisas they thought we were,” Henderson said.

Sheriff’s Department Maj. Dustin Bairfield said an ongoingproblem is motorists filling up tanks and whatever other containersthey can. He said that compounds the wait time in line with thetime needed to get another tanker to the station.

Bairfield encouraged gas stations to limit customers to 20gallons.

“If we can spread it out some, it should go a lot further,” hesaid.

While the situation was better, conservation was stillrecommended.

“We still don’t need the public to be out driving around,burning gas and looking,” said Brookhaven-Lincoln County CivilDefense Director Clifford Galey.

Galey said all roads in the county were passable except for oneswith major power lines down and those with large trees over them.He and District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson, who wasstill dealing with numerous downed trees in his beat, said theyappreciated everyone’s patience.

“Just bear with us. We’re getting there,” Williamson said.

During Saturday’s briefing, Galey said Southwest EPA still hadabout 1,500 without power. That was was down from about 3,000 onFriday.

In Magnolia EPA’s service area, Galey said there about 20,000members still without power.

Kenny Goza, Entergy customer accounts manager, said about 5,000of its area customers were without power. He said there were 1,300spans of lines down and 225 broken poles.

With personnel stretched thin, Goza warned of slower progress ascrews seek to restore more homes and businesses. He estimated itcould be up to two weeks before some have power restored.

“It’s going to get slower and slower every day,” Goza said.

Emergency personnel Saturday continued their other activities ina variety of areas.

“It’s going as well as it can from our standpoint,” Galeysaid.

Combating rumors has become increasingly part of thoseactivities.

One gas-related rumor is that there is free gasoline foremergency workers. Galey said there is a supply, but only foremergency vehicles.

“No private vehicles can be involved,” Galey said. “It has to besome kind of government agency.”

Another rumor Galey refuted was that the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency had set up a location of individual assistance.He said that has not been done.

Galey has said that once a declaration is made, notices aboutwhere people can get assistance will be publicized and postedaround the community.

Regarding relief, another rumor heard was that non-residents ofBrookhaven or Lincoln County were being removed from Red Crossshelters. Galey said that is absolutely not the case.

“Not only is that not true, we are busing people and doingwhatever we have to do to find them shelter,” Galey said.

A rumor that surfaced Saturday was that a local deputy had beenshot Friday. Authorities denied that as well.

“We have not had anybody hurt here,” Bairfield said.