@Photo CUTLINE:Tommy Smyrl who runs Smyrl's Lawn Service out of Loganville and does a lot of work in Covington fills up his second riding lawn mower at QuikTrip on Ga. Hwy. 142. Smyrl put $75 worth of diesel in his truck, which filled it up about halfway, and paid $33.70 for both lawn mowers. He said he regretted not buying the diesel in Loganville where prices were $3.89 a gallon for diesel versus QuikTrip's $4.09. Before Hurricane Katrina hit seven years ago, Smyrl said his fuel bill was about $1,200 per month. Since then, it's increased to between $3,000 and $3,600 a month. - Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON - Hurricane Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday, but the storm's impact on gas prices continued to be felt.
Although AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report on Thursday listed national average gas prices for regular unleaded at $3.82 per gallon and Georgia's at $3.86 per gallon, motorists in Newton County, Atlanta and the metro area were paying closer to $4 per gallon.
Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico came to a halt a week ago as Isaac neared oil platforms. Precautionary shutdowns caused a loss of 2 to 3 million barrels in oil production.
"Only after Isaac passes through the Gulf will experts be able to assess any damages and determine when oil production can resume," said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman. Regardless of when oil production resumes, "motorists are likely to see gas prices increase into the Labor Day holiday."
Meanwhile, Snapping Shoals EMC has sent workers to parts of Mississippi to help restore power in the aftermath of Isaac. More than 100 workers and a large contingent of equipment from eight electric cooperatives in Georgia are involved in the effort, and may also travel to Louisiana.
At this time, crews and equipment from Canoochee EMC in Reidsville, Carroll EMC in Carrollton, Cobb EMC in Marietta, Colquitt EMC in Moultrie, Diverse Power in LaGrange, Grady EMC in Cairo, GreyStone Power in Douglasville and Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington are being sent to Kiln, Picayune and Laurel, Miss. That number could increase as EMCs in areas hardest hit complete damage assessments and request additional crews.
Winds and heavy rains are a great threat during hurricanes such as Isaac, with the potential to blow electric poles and structures to the ground and knock hundreds of trees on power lines, according to a press release issued by Snapping Shoals. The areas have already sustained heavy rains, soaking the ground and making conditions ripe for fallen power lines. Once in those areas, the EMCs in Georgia will rely on their extensive experience in restoring power following a variety of weather events, including ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.
While no one can say specifically in what order power will be restored when the crews arrive, many utilities follow a standard industry practice to repair and energize lines. First, feeder and primary lines are repaired, then secondary and service lines. This method restores power to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
Isaac sidestepped New Orleans Wednesday, sending the worst of its howling wind and heavy rain into a cluster of rural fishing villages that had few defenses against the slow-moving storm.
Isaac arrived exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina and passed slightly to the west of New Orleans, where the city's fortified levees system easily handled the assault.
President Barack Obama declared Louisiana and Mississippi disaster areas late Wednesday.
The National Weather Service predicts that rain will be slacking off in the metro area over the weekend, with a 30 percent chance today and Saturday and Labor Day and a 40 percent chance on Sunday.