Floridians are flocking to stores to stock up ahead of Hurricane Irma. Some locations are struggling to keep supplies on the shelves.
Floridians seem to be taking Hurricane Irma seriously. Residents from Miami to Palm Beach to Tallahassee are buying out whole shelves of bottled water as soon as they’re restocked. The demand is spurring some stores to redirect their supply chains in order to keep up with hurricane preparations. Angela Williams manages a Lowe’s hardware store in Tallahassee, where she’s expecting truckloads of extra supplies from North Carolina.
“Our Lowe’s emergency command center in North Carolina is working to ship critically needed supplies to Florida. They’ve actually already shipped more than 400 truckloads of product to Florida since Monday in preparation for the storm,” Williams said. “They’re going to continue to expedite shipments so that our customers can properly prepare.”
At the time of publishing, Publix had not responded to repeated requests for information on how it will keep pace with residents' needs. The grocery store chain is headquartered in Lakeland, Florida.
Demand for water, tarps, batteries, gas cannisters, plywood and generators is expected to grow as Irma approaches, and as South Florida residents evacuate north ahead of the storm.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Monroe County has declared a mandatory evacuation order for all residents and all visitors. Non-residents are ordered to leave the Keys beginning Wednesday September 6th at 7 am, while residents have until 7 pm that day.
According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade County is also considering evacuation orders, beginning as soon as Wednesday.
According to NOAA's National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma is now a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. The agency calls Irma a potentially catastrophic storm that "will bring life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards" to parts of the Caribbean. NOAA says the chance of direct impact to Florida is growing as Irma approaches, but it's too early to reliably predict the timing and intensity of the storm's effects on the state.