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Where did all the water go? Did the gas pumps run dry? Storm sets off a buying frenzy

Are Publix and Costco out of water? Have Florida gas stations run dry?

With the increasing drumbeat of a hurricane possibly heading our way, people made storm supply runs Friday afternoon and evening as the workweek ended with the state in the cone.

With the burst of demand, you might have seen water shelves empty by the time you got to your neighborhood supermarket on Saturday.

Supermarkets

Kroger

Kroger distribution centers opened recently in Florida, including one in Opa-locka to serve South Florida customers, via home deliveries, so no brick-and-mortar stores.

But people are ordering in, says Kroger spokeswoman Kayla Poe.

“So far sales have increased when it comes to customers buying water. Kroger is limiting the number of water cases to five per order to make sure that as many customers as possible can purchase the essential item,” Poe said in an email to the Miami Herald.

“Additionally, Kroger will continue to monitor the storm and assess when they will stop delivering to ensure the safety of their associates while also providing customers with delivery options for as long as possible,” she said, adding that “Kroger gets their supplies from Atlanta so they expect to restock in their usual manner.”

Publix

“Our teams are working diligently to ensure we keep our stores stocked for our customers. We work closely with Instacart throughout disruptions and share any store hour changes with them that could impact service availability,” said Publix spokeswoman Lindsey Willis in an email to the Herald.

Publix store status can be checked to see if your location is open or closed as a result of a storm at this link: www.publix.com/pages/publix-storm-basics.

Walmart

Walmart’s senior manager of media relations released a statement. “With the chance of severe weather next week, we’re working to make sure our stores are prepared to safely serve our customers and communities, both before and after the storm,” said Robert Arrieta.

Winn-Dixie

“Our Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarket locations throughout Florida are experiencing a higher demand for hurricane preparedness essentials. As expected, staples items such as bottled water, batteries, non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, paper and plastic products are selling quickly,” said Southeastern Grocers spokeswoman Meredith Hurley in an email response to the Herald on Saturday.

“To ensure we are well stocked to serve our customers, we allocated emergency truckloads of essentials to stores throughout Florida yesterday,” she said.

The supermarket chain plans to monitor the storm track and to keep the products, as well as vaccines, stocked and stores open so long as it is safe. “We put people first, and we’ll use safety as our first and most important guideline when making decisions about store closures and resupplying our stores,” Hurley said.

Customers can keep track of their local Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más and Harveys store’s status through the following websites:

www.winndixie.com/weather-update, www.frescoymas.com/weather-update and www.harveyssupermarkets.com/weather-update.

Empty shelves at a Miami area Publix on Friday evening.
Empty shelves at a Miami area Publix on Friday evening.

Gasoline

As for gas, several stations near Interstate 75, just north of Alligator Alley had no gas Friday night for travelers heading to Broward County.

What’s going on? Have we bought up all the hurricane supplies in anticipation of Ian?

Don’t worry. Yet.

Because of the sudden rush on supplies, and people buying so much in a burst of hurricane anxiety, the first layer of inventories did dip. But that doesn’t mean they’re not being replenished.

Grocery stores typically have enough water in their warehouses and just need to replenish the shelves at their stores.

And there are no reports of a serious gas shortage in Florida so far, even though some pumps are dry.

Some advice:

Stock up on hurricane supplies, but also check what you have already.

Buy only what you need.

If a store is out of an essential item, ask when it will be restocked.

Top off your gas tank now.