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Residents raid local stores for last-minute supplies

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Shelves are empty on the bread aisle as customers shop at Food Lion on East Tenth Street in preperation for Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge and Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

With projections for Hurricane Florence looking more and more dire, Pitt County residents have been scurrying through local stores and gas stations scavenging for emergency supplies. 

On everyone’s list for the special occasion: Food, gas and water.

Casey Gerald, who was filling her car up at a gas station north of the river, said it was the fourth station she had visited.

She said though it was frustrating trying to get ready for the storm, she thought it was heartwarming to see charities and residents reaching out to help those in need.

“Honestly I’m a proud Pitt County resident because everybody seems to be working together,” she said, telling a story about how she and another woman split the remaining candles at a grocery store earlier that day. “Everybody’s working together to get it all done. It’s been nice to see the community rally together.”

David Nichles said he had a different experience than most. Filling up at the same station as Gerald, he said he found all his food supplies at the first grocery store he went to, got propane at Blount Petroleum and found gas at the first place he usually stops. 

At the Food Lion on East 10th Street, shoppers foraged for canned goods, water and milk, to no avail.

“I've been looking for bread and water and of course, there's none to be found,” Zack Taft said. But Taft has been through several hurricanes and said he is not too concerned aboutsupplies right now.

“I was here for Floyd so I'm not really worried about it. I believe the city is ready and the power will come on quickly,” Taft said. “I'm more worried about no having any air conditioning. It's a storm and I've been through a bunch of hurricanes.”

James Person who has lived in Greenville for 28 years said he was scoping out the stores to see what he can find.

“Today I'm pretty much just seeing what kind of canned goods versus the meats and other items that require refrigeration and electricity,” Person said. “When the power goes out, you don't really have a lot of choice to cook your products in the refrigerator. A lot of canned goods will be great for that kind of stuff.”

Person said he prepared for Hurricane Florence last week.

“Last week I went ahead and grabbed water when I heard a hurricane was coming,” he said. “I remember Hurricane Floyd and I wanted to be prepared. I'm in it just like everybody else and I don't want it to be as bad as Hurricane Floyd.”

At Lowes on East 10th Street, customers have been stocking up on supplies since Sunday.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, the hardware store was completely sold out of generators, sand bags, batteries, water and other critical items.

“What's happening is the main distribution center opened two days ago and it started creating a straight line to these areas that are going to be affected,” Service Manager Christina Macmiller said. “We only know when these items come in about three hours ahead of time. You get truckloads of generators, water trucks coming in, and we have odds and ends trucks coming in, meaning other supplies like cords, gas cans and things like that. For the odds and ends, we don't know when they're coming, they just pull in.”

Two more truckloads of generators are expected to show up today but that will probably be it, Macmiller said.

“Since Sunday, we've gotten five trucks with about 156 generators each on them so we've probably sold around a 1,000 total generators,” he said.

In addition to buying generators, Macmiller said customers are after batteries, tarps, extension cords, radios and even some less common items like piping, bug repellent and fans.

Tommy Shirley of Greenville pre-ordered his generator online and said he purchased an extra generator just in case his old one gives out.

“It's never a bad idea to have an extra generator because we don't know how long the power is going to be out,” Shirley said. “I don't feel like we can be too safe.”

Shirley said he  also has been stocking up on water and batteries and that he is ready for the hurricane about as well as everyone else.

Unlike with previous hurricanes, Shirley said he chose to go ahead and buy a generator rather than waiting.

“Every time there's a storm, I say 'I'm going to go get a generator this time’ and I never do,” he said. “I just got fortunate this time and was able to order my generator online last night.

“I've been here all my life and this isn't my first rodeo,” he said. “It's mother nature and there's not a lot we can do with it. It's the price we pay for living on the coast.”

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