August 31, 2008

New Orleans evacuated as gas prices expected to rise to $6/gallon

With a historic evacuation of 1.9 million people from the Louisiana coast complete, gun-toting police and National Guardsmen are standing watch as rain has started to fall on New Orleans. The powers that be are extremely worried Hurricane Gustav would be another Katrina.

Police threatened to arrest if necessary, forcing thousands of American onto buses and warned that anyone who remained behind would not be rescued. Looters will go directly to jail – no exceptions.

The storm was set to crash ashore midday Monday with frightful force, testing the three years of planning and rebuilding that followed Katrina's devastating blow to the Gulf Coast.

Painfully aware of the failings that led to that horrific suffering and more than 1,600 deaths, this time officials moved beyond merely insisting tourists and residents leave south Louisiana.

Meanwhile the evacuation and shut down of oil rigs and oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico has caused economists to speculate that gas prices, if the worst happens, could skyrocket to as much as $6 or $7 US per gallon. Due to a shortage of oil in the United States and a lack of backup oil refineries the price of gasoline within the USA is expected to rise dramatically.

America's oil and gasoline stockpiles have been notoriously low since George W. Bush came to power in January 2001 and started selling off stockpiles. (The US government normally maintains oil and gas stockpiles in the event of an emergency or prolonged war, but because of America's rapidly increasing oil shortage the Bush Administration decided to sell the stockpiles because they deemed the War on Terrorism to be an important enough emergency.)

New Orleans appears to be the Achilles heel of the US economy. Whenever the Louisiana coast gets hit by a hurricane the American economy seems to go for a nose dive. Combined with the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007 and the current American recession things are not looking very positive.

At least this time the powers that be are taking hurricanes seriously. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cost the Bush Administration a chunk of its already low popularity.

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