Gwinnett relived a bad memory from the 1970s this past week.
Fearing a scarcity of gasoline in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, customers turned many Gwinnett gas stations into parking lots on Wednesday, created lines of cars that spilled into the road and raided gas cans from store shelves to stockpile fuel.
Gov. Sonny Purdue activated the state's emergency law against price gouging after prices at the pump soared well past $3 and even as high as $5 at some area gas stations.
The attention for most of the week was focused on two key pipelines that run gasoline from the Gulf Coast to Georgia. When Katrina knocked out power along those pipelines, gasoline could not be moved along the conduit to Georgia. That situation prompted fears Georgia would be cut off from the supply of gasoline and sent customers into panic.
By Friday, Colonial - owner of the larger pipeline - said it planned to head into this weekend at nearly 85 percent capacity. Its refineries in Texas escaped damage from Katrina's 145 mph winds and more than 20-foot storm surge.
Gas suppliers criticized the public for hoarding gas and accused reporters of fanning the flames of panic.
"The media needs to take a chill pill," one supplier said. "There is plenty of gas."
Get used to this
Whether Katrina, a buying frenzy or media hype were to blame, numerous Gwinnett gas stations ran out of fuel heading into the weekend. Others put gas rations on fill-ups.
Tom Kloza, chief analyst with Oil Price Information Service, said gas prices and supplies may start to stabilize over the next week. Kloza offered this take on the situation:
"It's going to be a tough week. ... I do not want to sugarcoat that fact," Kloza said in a conference call with the media Friday. "But this is not illustrative of what is going to happen over the next 90 days."
A fallen icon - and several thousand layoffs
In other business news not dominated by Katrina, Gwinnett's SaveRite stores shut their doors for good.
About the only items left for sale were store light fixtures.
Nearly 3,100 Georgia SaveRite employees faced losing their jobs, according to the Department of Labor.
"Georgia is having difficulty creating jobs for its citizens," Thurmond said. "This is a troubling trend given the layoffs at MCI (in Alpharetta), the future base closings and the challenges Delta faces. Winn-Dixie was a Southern retail icon for years. Many probably never dreamed they would see this happen."
Doug Sams can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.