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    Southeastern Grocers Struggle to Cope with Gas Shortages

    Hurricane Ike's effects continue to be felt in parts of the Southeast, as customers wait in line for gas and stations struggle to maintain supply.

    It may be three weeks since hurricanes knocked out power to Gulf Coast refineries, but gasoline is still in short supply in many cities in the Southeast, and while area grocery chains that sell gas have received sporadic gas and diesel deliveries, many locations continue to be low or completely out of some or all grades.

    K-VA-T Food Stores is among the operators that continue to struggle with supply. The pumps at Food City Gas N Go stations remained blocked off for days after Hurricane Ike shut down refineries. Even though refineries are up and running today, it will take weeks for pipeline supply to be back to normal, chain officials said.

    "I think we're going to be challenged for some time," said Steve Smith, ceo of Abingdon, Va.-based, K-VA-T. "Everybody's been challenged."

    The grocer is currently receiving about 40 percent of its normal fuel allocation for its 56 gas locations. Half the Food City gas stations were closed last week, according to Smith. Some locations without gas removed prices from signs. Food City has tried to direct gas shipments to most-needed areas and resisted buying supply when prices were at $5 a gallon on the spot and rack markets, Smith said. Gas supplies are expected to return to normal by the end of October.

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