Parking lots were filling up Thursday afternoon at local supermarkets and home improvement stores as shoppers began to stock up on storm essentials as Hurricane Irene continues to track up the coast towards New Jersey.
Shoppers in Mid-Monmouth Area Looking for Basics
Long Branch resident Odessa Dangler walked out of the with two plastic gas cans but not the generator she was hoping to find.
Dangler, who lost her hot water heater and washing machine in the basement of her Florence Avenue home when it filled with water during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, was not taking any chances. She was coming back later Thursday afternoon when she was told generators would be available at the store.
Store manager Ismet Ekin said that store traffic was heavier than usual with the impending storm and that shoppers were all looking for similar items: bottled water, generators, dehumidifiers, sump pumps, flashlights and batteries.
“About 85 percent of shoppers are looking for those things,” said Ekin.
Over at the Super Foodtown on Route 35 in Ocean Township, Sandy Ascari was loading her car with provisions to get her and her four pets through the storm.
“Pet food and water were the biggest things (on my shopping list),” said the Wanamassa resident, who was considering relocating to her sister’s farm out in Howell with her pets to ride out the storm.
Rich Kay, store manager at the Super Foodtown, said he had brought in extra help in anticipation of increased traffic due to the storm. He said that preparing for a hurricane was the opposite of a snowstorm, so had cut back on ordering perishable items and instead loaded up on canned goods and bottled water.
Grabbing a cart outside the Tricia Ogden of Shrewsbury had just come from stocking up on art supplies at the AC Moore down the road to keep her four children occupied while cooped up inside the house all weekend. She was heading into the Route 35 supermarket to stock up on ingredients for big dinner on Sunday to serve up on her china while they rode out the storm at home.
Jennifer Gilmartin of Shrewsbury, who also has four children, was at the A&P to stock up before the storm on cartons of milk for her two year old and D batteries for the flashlight and ingredients for a big spaghetti dinner for her family.
According to Asbury Park resident Patricia Patton, who forwarded a picture as proof, gas lines at the Costco in Ocean Township were “snaking out of the lot.”
Western Monmouth Shoppers Batten Down the Hatches
In western Monmouth County, customers were flooding the home improvement stores and stocking up on generators, shop vacs, sump pumps and sand bags.
By Thursday morning, the Home Depots located in Marlboro and Freehold no longer had generators in stock and did not expect a shipment to arrive before the storm.
“I’ve had over 200 calls for generators, which we don’t have,” said a customer service representative from the Home Depot in Freehold.
The Lowe's Improvement Store in Morganville, however, had received a new shipment of generators, according to a store manager.
Both Home Depots were not planning to increase their hours because of the storm or offer any sales or price breaks on hurricane supplies.
“We’re running out of pretty much everything,” a customer service representative for the Home Depot in Marlboro said. The manager of the store, Leon Bennett, said that dwindling supplies would be replenished before the storm.
Locals were also hitting the supermarkets to stock up on all of the essentials in case the storm left people without power. “There is definitely an influx of people,” one of the managers of the Stop & Shop supermarket in Manalapan Township, John Beese, said.
Beese said that the supermarket would not stay open for any additional hours because of Hurricane Irene’s approach but that they are “stocked and ready to go.”
Monmouth County residents are packing home improvement and grocery stores, as well as gas stations and pharmacies in preparation for Hurricane Irene.
Iris Munitz of Freehold visited Lowe's in Morganville Thursday morning to buy a grill cover and anything else she needed to make sure her backyard would be secure.
"I'm trying to get the things situated on my patio so that there are not flying missiles," she said.
The Morganville Lowe's was planning on selling large amounts of generators, flashlights, tarps and shop-vacs.
At ShopRite in Englishtown, Manalapan resident Shari Vaccaro and her son were stocking up on food and fun for the weekend, in anticipation of indoor activities.
"We're getting munchies, snacks, flashlights, and candles," she said. "We're getting ready for the big storm."
The new Costco in Marlboro was buzzing, with cars waiting in line for gas and people waiting in line for parking spots to visit the wholesale retailer.
"I hope the electricity doesn't go out," said Lonnie Harms, as she loaded her trunk with eggs, water, fruit and snacks.
People “Shopping Like it’s the End of the World” Along the Shore
“I swear everybody in town has been shopping!” said Krista See, a cashier at the in Fair Haven. “I got here at 8 o’clock this morning and have not stopped,” she added. “People are shopping like it is the end of the world. I have literally sold more today than I have in the past two weeks.”
See said shoppers are buying the basics like water, batteries and flashlights. “But some people are buying the weirdest things, like 500 TV dinners. What are they going to do with those if we really have no power?” she asked.
The manager at the on River Road said the store’s staff had bee working “non-stop” on Thursday as well. “It has been crazy busy,” said Richard Esposito. “We have not stopped filling prescriptions. Everyone is coming in to make sure they pick up their prescriptions before the weather gets really bad.”
Middlesex County Shoppers all About the Generators
People in Woodbridge were taking the news of the hurricane very seriously and very quickly. Generators sold out last night at Home Depot in Woodbridge and this morning at the store in Colonia.
"Are you kidding?" laughed a sales clerk when asked if there were any more generators to be had. "People are still coming in for them, even when they call first and we tell them they're gone."
Lowe's in Woodbridge was cleaned out as well.
Even if there wasn't any emergency gasoline-fired electricity to be had, customers were grabbing supplies off the shelves at Home Depot on Thursday.
"Batteries, I need batteries," muttered a woman whose cart whose full cart was topped off with three flashlights.
The plywood and lumber departments were also doing a brisk business.
"I can't find this in my Home Depot," said Mary LeGrand, who traveled from Staten Island to stock up at the Woodbridge store.
Inside Lowe's, Becky Malysa from Red Bank was unsuccessful finding a battery-operated radio to have on hand in case of a power loss.