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Drop in gas price may start this week

By wire services
Published September 6, 2005

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Multimedia: Continuing fallout
Storm Watch blog

WASHINGTON - A week of uncertain energy prices awaits motorists after record high prices for gasoline throughout the long Labor Day weekend.

The AAA motor club reported Monday that the nationwide average for a gallon of gasoline was $3.05, although prices were much higher in most major metropolitan areas.

In Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, average prices Monday were $2.98 for regular, $3.23 for midrange and $3.29 for premium, AAA reported.

But prices could start dropping as soon as this week.

"I think there will more or less be a return to normal. We are finding more (oil) rigs coming back, refineries are coming back, pipelines are coming back. It would appear the worst is behind us," said Peter Beutel, an oil analyst with Cameron Hanover in New Canaan, Conn.

Power was restored to three-quarters of the storm-battered Gulf Coast region over the weekend, allowing pipelines to increase the flow of oil and gasoline.

Former presidents announce relief fund

In Houston, former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton announced the establishment of a coordinated relief fund, similar to one that aided Asian tsunami victims. Wal-Mart has already contributed $23-million.

Money from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund will be turned over to the governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to determine how best to use it. For information on how to contribute, visit

European nations also geared up after U.S. officials made a rare request for help over the weekend. Germany and Britain pledged a half-million food rations. Greece put two cruise ships on standby to house refugees, and Sweden offered aircraft to help distribute aid shipments.

Storm evacuees get phony designer goods

WASHINGTON - The Yves St. Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger labels may be phony, but the thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims getting knockoff items seized by federal customs officials probably don't mind.

Displaced survivors in the Houston Astrodome can choose from counterfeit and abandoned clothing, toys, and even dog food.

More than 100,000 items were quickly taken from warehouses and more will follow, said Kristi Clemens, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection division. The agency has about 1-million items stored.

Other storms still far from coast

MIAMI - Hurricane Maria continued to intensify in the Atlantic on Monday. Far from land, it remained a threat to only shipping.

Top wind speeds approached 115 mph as the system neared cooler waters, expected to sap much of its strength. At 11 p.m., the storm was centered about 485 miles east of Bermuda, near latitude 32.9 N, longitude 56.5 W, moving north-northeast at 6 mph.

Also, Tropical Storm Nate formed Monday. At 11 p.m., it had top sustained winds near 40 mph. It was centered about 320 miles south-southwest of Bermuda, latitude 28.0 N, longitude 66.8 W, and was expected to begin moving slowly west.

[Last modified September 6, 2005, 11:50:33]

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