Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Hurricane Harvey is expected to lead to slight gasoline price hikes across the country, but that could be worse if ongoing rain and flooding in the Houston area adds more damage to refineries.
With oil and gas refineries in Texas not operating because of Hurricane Harvey, gas prices in the Midlands and across the country are on the rise.
In the Corpus Christi and Houston areas, refineries shut down before the storm hit Friday to minimize damage. The Corpus Christi refineries are set to reopen within two to three days, but it is not clear when the ones in Houston will reopen.
Charles Gary, Sr. from Columbia is feeling it at the pump.
"I think I’d better go get some gas before it goes up any higher. Of course I know it's because of the storm. We have no control over God's world, so I'm just having to roll with the punches. I gotta have gas," said Gary.
Right now, the national average is $2.36 a gallon. Prices could go up another 5 cents to 15 cents next week as a surge in Labor Day holiday demand collides with the pullback in supply.
Gas prices in the Midlands are sitting around $2.10 but a third of the nation's gas comes from the Gulf Coast region in Texas.
With Labor Day Weekend coming up, Nicholas Robinson says that adds to the situation.
"Being that I'll probably go back to Greenville to see my family for the holiday, I'll probably fill up ahead of time anyway," said Robinson.
With the fear of a gas shortage, a lot of people are headed to the pump to make sure their cars are taken care of but AAA spokesperson Tiffany Wright says if you're not following your normal gas routine, you could be causing a major issue.
"Don't panic at the pump. Don't go to the pump and overspend. Don't overconsume gas. It can lead to a ton of problems," said Wright.
Wright also says that when you head to the pump, you should only get what you need.
"We've seen this in the past, where everybody has run out and everyone is topping off when they don't need to. They pump up their other vehicles that they don't need it. That is unfortunately what led to the shortage. It's not that we didn't have enough supply. It was that our demand was ridiculously high and it shouldn't have been. Sometimes we can be our own worse enemy," explained Wright.
Pump prices that normally would fall 25 cents after Labor Day instead will likely stay elevated through September before dropping.