Despite sitting hundreds of miles from the Gulf Coast and being virtually untouched by Hurricane Harvey, Oxford has been feeling the after-effects of the storm’s wrath in an unexpected way.
Over the past week, gas prices all over the United States have spiked due to a combination of shutdowns of critical oil refineries and pipelines and damages from the storm. The average national gas price (per gallon) as reported by GasBuddy was $2.35 on Aug. 27 and just nine days later had increased to $2.66.
The price difference in Oxford, however, was much more noticeable. City average gas prices hovered around $2 per gallon before Harvey hit and spiked to $2.49 per gallon as of Tuesday. Many expect prices to stay high as long as there are still disruptions due to the after-effects of Harvey.
Some students noticed their wallets getting a little lighter from the price spikes over Labor Day weekend.
“It’s kind of annoying since I went on a road trip this weekend, and it cost me more,” exercise science major Michelle Mazza said.
Criminal justice major Kalon Gipson said he wasn’t surprised by the sharp rise in gas prices.
“The prices due to Hurricane Harvey came as a suspected result to me,” Gipson said. “I understand that because of the storm, many sources of gas from the affected areas are out of service, making the supply smaller, but it still seems like gas companies tend to use events like Harvey as an excuse to price gouge instead of helping those in need with aid and financial assistance. It’s upsetting.”
Other students at Ole Miss aren’t concerned. Music major Annie Fields said it was nothing compared to the direct damages from Hurricane Harvey.
“The fact that it takes 10 more dollars to fill a tank up is inconvenient to a lot of people, but I would imagine it’s more inconvenient to have your entire house under water,” Fields said. “So I’m not complaining about it.”
Some are even trying to find the situation’s lighter side.
“I wanted to go home Friday night to see my family, but the slightly higher gas prices deterred me from doing so,” Cole Durrett, a secondary English education and classics double major, said.
Hurricane Irma could further raise prices at the pump in the coming weeks, depending on the storm’s trajectory. If the storm hits the gulf, it may cause additional shutdowns and outages in critical oil infrastructure. The storm may also hit the East Coast, a situation which would allow for prices to recover.
Students are preparing for a possible rise in prices at the pump when Irma makes landfall this weekend.
“I’m kind of expecting the prices to stay high or go higher once Irma hits,” Gipson said.