Water ... water everywhere, but hardly a drop on the shelves.
As Hurricane Sandy drowned the mid-state with rain Monday, water of the bottled variety was a rare commodity at many local grocery stores.
Wegmans on the Carlisle Pike was completely tapped out of gallon jugs and had less than a handful of 24-pack cases left. The same was true at Weis Market on Spring Garden Street.
The water aisle of the Giant Food Store in Carlisle was running empty except for high-end, single-serve bottles of “energy” water and water rich in electrolytes. Even distilled water was gone.
Meanwhile, at Carlisle Walmart, gallon jugs had completely disappeared from one side of the aisle, but there were six skids partially full of 24-packs on the other side.
All the stores were swamped by a tide of shoppers preparing for the worst.
“I’m buying water, toilet paper and bread,” said Craig Heishman of Silver Spring Township at Wegmans. “We have four children and school is closed so what else are we going to do? They need supplies simply because they’re home. Are we worried? Well, we’re obviously not the only ones because the shelves are empty.”
Jen Pfister of Carlisle was lifting cases of spring water into her cart at the local Weis store. “I’m helping out a friend who couldn’t find water anywhere,” she explained.
As a precaution, Pfister used the weekend to stock up on supplies that have a long shelf life. She figured if the storm is less serious, the non-perishable surplus merchandise can be used later by her family or donated to charity.
Bread and batteries
Bottled water aside, C- and D-sized batteries were completely gone from in-store displays. There were no flashlights on the sales floor and the supply of candles of every shape, size and scent were disappearing from the shelf.
“I ran over (to Target from Wegmans) to make sure we had batteries, but I can’t find D batteries anywhere,” Cori Hely of Mechanicsburg said. “I’m hoping that we won’t need a flashlight but you never know. I believe this storm will be worse than what people think so I’m loading up for two weeks not just for two days.”
Usually major storms have shoppers crowding stores for milk and bread. While Weis and Walmart had plenty of milk to spare, Giant was out of gallon jugs of 2-percent and whole milk when The Sentinel visited mid-morning on Monday. There was plenty of higher-cost lactose free, Silk and organic milk.
Pricing also played a role in the bread aisle of Walmart where the supply of store brand white bread was completely gone, but there was plenty of high-end whole grain, honey wheat, rye and specialty breads. Weis, Walmart and Giant also had a large supply of hamburger and hot dog rolls. That wasn’t the case everywhere.
“We had to buy hot dog buns because we couldn’t find bread anywhere,” Danielle Oplinger of Mechanicsburg said. “We’ll eat sandwiches on hot dog buns. If the power does go out, at least we’ll have that. We’ll be ready.”
The front of the Walmart store looked more like the height of the Christmas shopping season except much of the merchandise in most every shopping cart were groceries. The department store end of the Carlisle superstore was relatively empty.
The arrival of Hurricane Sandy put a damper on any thought of celebrating Halloween. As of Monday mid-morning, there was plenty of holiday candy, costumes, decorations and pumpkins left to chose from.