State and Federal officials have been very helpful and consumer-friendly with their rulings and emergency regulations due to Hurricane Laura. The most important changes needed have already been addressed: Hours of Service regulations have been suspended allowing businesses to work overtime when and where needed; rules prohibiting competitors from filling up tanks without proper notice have also been suspended, thus allowing ANY licensed dealer to fill up ANY tank immediately; rules have been suspended allowing out-of-state dealers and suppliers ready access to the most critically damaged areas; some certification requirements have been suspended, particularly for out-of-state companies who have responded to our emergency needs.
We are still hearing that access to some of the most rural customers is a problem. Apparently, there are issues with trees and power lines crossing some roads, water damage and flooding in some areas, mud and slippery conditions, and an inability of some of these customers to contact their dealers due to loss of power.
Our dealers have been working to fill the needs of the most critical customers first: Back-up generators for hospitals, nursing homes, cell towers, etc. Most dealers are then working to service customers who are about to run out of gas. A problem has arisen where some customers with 60-80% full tanks are calling to be “topped-off” while those with 10% or less are receiving the first service options. Unfortunately, some of the complaints are apparently coming from customers who feel they are not “topped-off” in a timely manner.
The local dealers in the affected areas have welcomed other companies from around the state, and from Texas and Arkansas who are helping service customers. We have issued warnings that price gouging will not be tolerated but want government officials and customers to realize that some companies bringing in propane from far distances may have transportation charges added to their prices which may be more than the local dealer’s regular price. This is not price gouging. It is simply a good-will attempt to meet the critical needs of a community in an emergency situation. Please report any attempts at price gouging to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office. For more information, go here: http://www.ag.state.la.us/Page/ConsumerDispute.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Southern and Western Service Centers on August 24 declared a Regional Emergency Declaration in response to Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco. The states included in the FMCSA Regional Declaration are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The full declaration details can be downloaded here: http://www.npga.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/FMCSA-Declaration-AL-LA-MS-TX-082420.pdf.
Click below to download the emergency declaration for Hurricane Laura recovery efforts issued by the Louisiana LP Gas Commission: