Ascension Parish officials make plea for fuel

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension Parish and state officials held a news conference Aug. 31 giving an update on the Hurricane Ida recovery efforts, and putting out a plea for fuel.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment expressed concern about running out of fuel, especially for residents who are at home with medical issues and need to power their generators.

"The fuel is out there somewhere. This nation is not out of fuel," Cointment said.

Though it is not critical yet, he said officials are being proactive in getting the message out via media outlets.

Gonzales State Rep. Clay Schexnayder, who is the Speaker of the House, asked why fuel has not been brought to the area.

"We will get through this. We will work as hard as we can to find answers," he said.

Refineries to the south had power interruptions, which is part of the problem, according to State Sen. Eddie Lambert.

State Rep. Tony Bacala said everything has been improving in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, except for the gasoline crisis.

"We're going downhill fast in terms of fuel. I hope we find out what the problem is and fix it," Bacala said.

A Mobil gas pump was wrapped after running out of fuel.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said a station is dedicated to just first responders.

"We do not want to panic Ascension Parish. We think we will be fine. We said let's do this today, and let's do this now, voicing our opinion," Webre said.

Bacala added that many stores have reopened, but are unable to sell fuel due to running out.

Cointment later added that the shortage of fuel creates "a ripple effect" that can cause other problems.

"We need to know that the fuel is on it's way," Cointment said.

Earlier in the conference, Webre said the westbank was "100 percent" out of power, while the east side was over 65 percent out.

The sheriff said parishes south of Ascension Parish were devastated, and are in need of supplies also.

"We can accept difficult answers and some challenges. We just don't know why this is happening," Webre said.

The sheriff reassured that officials will do whatever it takes not to be in a dire situation.

Later in the evening, Schexnayder posted a more detailed statement on his Facebook page.

"Over the last 24 hours, I’ve spoken to manufacturers and distributors to get answers and find solutions. Some refineries are still shut down due to the storm and others are waiting for necessary feedstock from other plants that are shut down," he stated.

Additionally, Schexnayder said serious rail and river transport issues have occurred.

"Even with all these complications, we simply cannot accept a shortage at a critical time like this. I have assurances from a wide range of industry partners that everyone will work together to try and identify both short and long term solutions to the fuel challenge," he said.

Schexnayder also thanked the Marathon refinery for "stepping up" and finding a solution to get sheriff's vehicles refueled.