Irene Cleanup Continues

East Coast retailers getting back to normal after hurricane; some Conn. stations still without power

HARTFORD, Conn. -- As East Coast convenience and gasoline retailers continued to deal with the disruption and devastation left by Hurricane Irene, which swept up the Eastern Seaboard last week, Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen extended the notice of abnormal market disruption for energy resources to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 6, and the state Department of Consumer Protection is advising consumers to conserve gasoline as many gas stations across the state remain without power.

Gary Dake, president of the 330-store Stewarts Shops chain in New York and Vermont, posted the following notice on its website earlier this week: "The challenges brought on by Hurricane Irene continue today for many of our customers, partners and shops. A number of our shops are either out of power, operating on generator, or closed due to flooding. The shops affected will be changing throughout the day. I want to thank our customers for their patience and understanding. We hope any inconveniences have been at a minimum and expect conditions to improve throughout the day."

He added, "To our partners; I want to express thanks from all of us for your hard work during a very difficult time. You cared as owners for our customers, your co-workers and your shops."

Dake also posted an image of one of the Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based chain's flooded locations, in Fort Johnson, N.Y.

Click here to view the full image.

Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa Inc., which operates 580 c-stores in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, posted the following announcements on its website: "To Wawa Customers and Vendors: We are pleased to announce that all of our Wawa stores are now open and operating following the impact of Hurricane Irene. We appreciate your patience and understanding through the past few days and hope that you and your families are safe and well."

And Pilot Flying J, Knoxville, Tenn., which has more than 550 locations in North America, posted the following note on its website: "HURRICANE IRENE UPDATE: We are happy to report that all stores affected by the storms are now operational. Thank you for your patience during this time."

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, the AG's amended notice, issued under Connecticut General Statutes Section 42-234, puts wholesalers, retailers and consumers on notice that charging unconscionably excessive prices for gasoline, heating fuels and other energy resources is prohibited. It had been scheduled to expire on midnight Wednesday.

"We have extended the market disruption period because much of the state remains without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. That includes as many as one-third of all gasoline stations, according to recent estimates. It will take days or even weeks for the damage to be cleared and electric service restored. We want to protect consumers during this abnormal period," Jepsen said.

Consumer protection commissioner William M. Rubenstein urged consumers to help stabilize markets by conserving gasoline. "With the gasoline supply emergency extended in Connecticut until Tuesday, I want to reassure residents that a few precautionary measures will assure that fuel supplies are sufficient for normal use," he said. "I am urging everyone to limit driving when possible and to put off topping off or filling up more than they normally do. These simple actions will keep our fuel distribution outlets running smoothly. We are asking everyone to pay attention to their driving habits, and conserve where you can--it just makes sense."

Jepsen said his office and the Department of Consumer Protection are monitoring the market and consumer complaints, some of which have already been reported.