Will gas, food prices rise in South Florida because of Hurricane Harvey?

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. – With so much fuel coming from Texas to Port Everglades, some South Floridians are worried about how Hurricane Harvey will impact the fuel industry.

Economists, however, say there is no real cause of concern at the moment and that Port Everglades' supply is adequate.

Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 20 inches of rain in some cities across the eastern coast of Texas, causing catastrophic flooding, and the effects of the natural disaster could have an economic ripple effect in South Florida.

Some 75 percent of all refined gas delivered to Port Everglades comes from refineries along the Gulf Coast, with Texas being the heart of the nation's oil and gas industry.

Refineries in Houston were still shut down Monday, but economists are not worried yet.

"Right now, we have adequate supply and we continue to monitor the situation and will make adjustments as appropriate," Port Everglades Chief Executive Steven Cernak said. "We absolutely have had no disruption." 

Dr. Albert Williams, associate professor of finance and economics at Nova Southeastern University, said gas prices have gone up slightly, but he said it’s only temporary.

"If we are paying $2.35 right now, maybe expect $2.50. But we don't expect that to last perhaps another two or three months," he said.

Williams said people shouldn’t be too worried about food prices rising, as well.

"Food prices don't change instantly. They have to have some time before you respond to production," Williams said. 

The airline industry, however, is taking a hit with all of Houston's major airports closed until further notice.

"The airline industry -- they've had over 1,000 flights canceled and that's costing us millions of dollars every day," Williams said. 

Six flights to the Houston area were impacted Monday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport because of the closure, but flights heading to other cities, such as Dallas and Austin, were on schedule.

Port Everglades officials are optimistic that refineries in Texas will be up and running soon, because they have taken direct hits from hurricanes before.

Still, officials said it would be prudent for people to conserve fuel if possible.


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