NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville continues to see the worst gasoline shortage in the Southeast, the region hardest hit by supply problems after Hurricane Ike.
Problems are also reported in metro Atlanta and Tallahassee, Fla., said AAA spokesman Randy Bly.
'But you guys (in Nashville) rate number one,' Bly said.
Long lines and empty pumps have become common in Tennessee's second-largest city since Friday morning.
Gov. Phil Bredesen said Friday afternoon that the pipeline to Nashville, which had been full only sporadically since Hurricane Ike hit Texas, was running at top capacity. But that did not seem to stop the run on gas over the weekend.
Emily LeRoy, associate director for the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association, said a supply shortage and panic buying are combining to create the problem. Nine major refineries were still off-line Monday in the Texas Gulf Coast.
Tennessee, on average, has had gasoline coming in at about 20 percent capacity over the last week, she said.
Oil companies are shipping refined oil into Nashville by barge and sending tankers as far as Pennsylvania to help meet demand, she said.
'But it takes a while for our retailers to get up and going and restock. We're asking the public to give us a little breathing room,' she said.
LeRoy said she has heard from retailers that some people are following tankers around town in the hopes of being the first in line at full pumps.
'I would not advise it,' she said. 'They may be driving to a terminal to wait in line for five hours.'
Tennessee has one pipeline that comes through Chattanooga, where there is a terminal. It then splits to terminals in Nashville and Knoxville, LeRoy said. Both are ends of the line.
The Memphis terminal, which has not seen shortages, is on a different pipeline, and the city also has the state's only refinery, she said.