PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – As the waters begin to recede and show the devastation and destruction caused by what was once Hurricane Harvey, AAA Florida wants drivers to stay calm.

That’s despite the fact some of the largest and most critical refineries in the nation were right in Harvey’s path.

Ten refineries are now closed and that’s where much of the Bay area’s fuel comes from.

“Well there’s no need to hit the panic button just yet,” Josh Carrasco of AAA Florida told News Channel 8.  “One thing that we haven’t seen is the price of crude oil going up during the course of this event and that’s really causing gas prices to not spike as high as it could.”

After some of those refineries do open up, AAA expects the prices to go back down.

Meantime, Bay area drivers are already feeling the pain at the pump.

“I think last time I filled up was $2.10ish,” said Max Clifton as he filled up his tank.  “Now what is it?  $2.39?”

Ryan Coppert of Upright Solutions says he’s definitely feeling a pinch at the pump.

“I’m a general contractor so it effects our business tremendously,” he told us.  “We fill it up every morning now. We try to keep it on full. We used to be OK to run it down a little bit but now we keep it on full.”

Harvey is also causing temporary shifts in the flow of oil and gasoline around the world after taking down a huge chunk of U.S. refining capacity.

It will be days or even weeks before the energy sector in the southeast Texas Gulf Coast is back to normal operations. The region accounts for about 3 percent of the U.S. economy and is a crucial export market for oil and chemicals.

Damage estimates are soaring, and economists say the storm and flooding could knock a fraction of a point off national economic growth in the third quarter.Read more stories about Harvey here


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