Hurricane News …

Corporate giants in the convenience world this week are continuing to donate millions of dollars as crews are trying to restore communities to normal in the wake of recent hurricanes.

However, the aftermath of Hurricanes Ike and Katrina is also prompting states to continue investigations into alleged price-gouging in a number of Gulf Coast and southern communities.

ConocoPhillips has already donated $5 million to help with relief efforts, with the money going to the American Red Cross, the United Way, the Salvation Army and the Texas Disaster Relief Fund.

Additionally, New York retailer Price Chopper joined TV station WNYT-Channel 13 and the American Red Cross to help hurricane victims by launching a “Your Help Counts” benefit for victims of the 2008 hurricanes.

The fundraising program represents joint cooperation from a long-standing partnership among the three organizations, which the group activates in times of national disaster.

Just a tally of some of the Red Cross’ relief efforts in Texas:

  • The Red Cross has served more than 157,400 meals and snacks to thoseaffected by Hurricane Ike;
  • 1,691 Red Cross disaster workers on the ground to assist;
  • More than 1 million ready-to-eat meals are in place;
  • 11 Kitchens are in place;
  • 108 Emergency Response Vehicles are in the state.

    Additionally, relief efforts in Louisiana include:

  • 2,100 Red Cross disaster workers on the ground to assist;
  • The Red Cross has served more than 1,157,200 meals to victims of Gustav and Ike
  • At the height of the disaster, 60,000 people stayed in Red Cross shelters across 10 states;>LI>Additional Emergency Response Vehicles are moving into west Louisiana toprovide mobile feeding to the most heavily affected areas.

    Price Chopper said when shoppers purchase $1 Red Cross pin-ups at the register, Price Chopper will match $1 for $1, up to $25,000.

    Also contributing to the relief efforts was Hess Corporation, which donated $3 million to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund. In addition to this donation, however, Hess has offered a special matching gift program for employees who wish to make a personal contribution. Hess will match every donation employees make in coming weeks to the Hurricane Ike relief efforts by the American Red Cross, United Way of Houston, the Salvation Army and the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund.

    Valero reported that its Houston Refinery is in the preliminary stages of a multi-day restart process, as it has power and steam and a limited supply of industrial gases.

    Production at the main process units is not expected for several more days, and adequate supplies of external industrial gases remain an issue.

    The company said there have been questions about how refinery and pipeline outages will affect retail gasoline prices.

    “Valero’s top priority at this time is the safe and efficient restart of its three refineries shut down by Hurricane Ike, because resupplying the market will take care of supply disruptions,” the company said in a press release. “In the meantime, we have had very limited price changes at our company-operated retail stores to the point where we are losing money on fuel sales. We do not control the pricing decisions of customers who buy from us, including branded wholesalers. We do expect that our branded wholesale customers will keep consumers’ interests in mind in the wake of Hurricane Ike.”

    Other news reports said attorneys general in a number of states continue to investigate accusations of price-gouging by fuel retailers. The Arkansas Attorney General, for instance, is investigating 30 gas stations for possible price gouging during Hurricane Ike.

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