Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 17, 2001
Rush to the pumps turns out to be a false alarm
By Patrice Waldron
The events of Tuesday shocked people all across the United States. Radios and televisions were playing when they usually stood silent.
When the television news stations in the Twin Cities reported that gas prices were on the rise, residents responded by racing to the pumps.
Shortly after the news report, motorists were lined up at least five deep at both Casey's and Tom Thumb in Winsted.
Motorists at the pumps at 9:45 p.m. were filling their tanks with gas priced at $1.69 per gallon, and
also present at the pumps were two members of the Winsted Police Department.
"In these situations, people tend to get a little excited, especially if they run out of gas, so I'm here, and another officer is at Tom Thumb's," explained Officer Gary Schott.
An employee at Casey's stated the store manager had been called when the situation developed.
The policy was to keep the gas at its current price unless corporate headquarters instructed otherwise.
The officers stayed on the scene for about an hour until the stores closed at 11 p.m.
Neither store ran out of gas, and there were no altercations at the pumps, Winsted Police Chief Mike Henrich said.
A similar scene took place in Lester Prairie that night, as motorists rushed to Big Don's Carthedral and The Depot to fill their tanks.
At Big Don's, gasoline sales picked up around 7 p.m. and by 8:30, the cars were lined up five deep, an employee said.
Members of the Lester Prairie Police Department were on the scene, staying until the businesses closed, making a few extra stops after the businesses closed, to ensure that all was quiet.
In a news release from the Minnesota Department of Commerce the next day, Commissioner Jim Bernstein urged Minnesotans to return to normal gasoline buying habits and refrain from topping off gas tanks for the next several days.
A sharp increase in demand could eventually lead to higher prices, it said.
"Rumors of gasoline supply problems are unfounded," said Bernstein. "If everyone fills up at once or waits in line to just top their tank, that's a huge shock to the system."
The report also stated that gasoline and diesel supplies in Minnesota are at the highest levels since April 27, 2001.
Traders of gasoline futures also showed no concern over the events in America, as oil prices were lower on London's International Petroleum Exchange one day after the tragedy.
Gasoline prices have remained steady, and things appear to be back to normal, employees reported.
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