Whatcom County residents are taking forecasts about upcoming storms seriously and have been hitting the stores to stock up on supplies.
Generators are in short supply, but plenty of other essential items were available Thursday afternoon, Oct. 13. Stores like Hardware Sales have seen a steady increase in customers since Wednesday, when forecasters began warning about the strength of a Thursday rainstorm and Saturday windstorm.
“We haven’t seen this in a while,” said Donald Newman, floor manager at Hardware Sales on James Street. Newman has worked at the store 27 years, so he’s seen a few of these pre-storm preparations. “We’re selling through a lot of things right now.”
Stores trying to get more generators may find some challenges because of what’s happening on the East Coast. The damage from Hurricane Matthew has led to a shortage of generators at stores in Florida and North Carolina, so more were being shipped there, Newman said. Hardware Sales has been working with distributors, hoping to get more in on Friday, he said.
Grocery stores were also busy Wednesday and Thursday. The Bakerview Fred Meyer store has had a steady stream of customers stocking up on bread, canned food, flashlights, batteries, propane and water, said Dan Miller, director at the store. As for the store itself, it has a generator system in case of a power outage, Miller said. At Haggen stores, Wednesday was busy in terms of sales, with gallon jugs of water, canned goods, firewood, batteries and candles among the more popular items.
The mood of customers seemed to be one of concern and a bit of urgency, said Shawn Riley, store manager at the Bellingham Ace Hardware, which is in the Sehome Shopping Center. Along with the basics like flashlights, Riley’s customers have been stocking up on tarps, rope and gas cans. Ace Hardware also had trouble keeping generators in stock. The store also stocks sandbags, something he said they haven’t been selling much yet, but that may change depending on how much rain arrives in Whatcom County.
Riley reminds people not to use generators indoors because of the carbon monoxide they emit.
“It’s just tragic when you hear of that happening to a family,” he said, referring to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Anything else people should think about picking up for a potentially long power outage?
“A deck of cards,” Riley said with a laugh.