Purchase Limits and Empty Shelves Are Back at Grocery Stores In This Coastal Area
Gaping grocery shelves where water bottles and bread used to be are the images coming out of Northeast Florida, as residents attempt to prepare for Hurricane Ian.
According to CBS News, grocery chain Publix confirmed that it has authorized its Florida locations to implement purchase limits on bottled water and other essentials. One location in St. Petersburg is limiting shoppers to daily purchases of two 24- or 32-packs of individual bottled water and four 1-gallon containers, the outlet reported.
However, on its website, Publix is encouraging customers in Hurricane Ian's path to stock up on shelf-stable emergency supplies like peanut butter, canned goods, powdered drinks, dried fruit, and baby formula.
"As we continue to monitor Ian, Publix locations may limit quantities of items, such as water, to best serve the majority of our customers," a Publix spokesperson said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. "We have seen increased purchases on items such as bread, water, batteries, and canned goods, just to name a few."
Publix isn't the only chain feeling the pressure of the shopping frenzy. According to The Miami Herald, Kroger locations are also limiting water purchases. Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, and Harveys Supermarket locations have allocated emergency stock of hurricane essentials, as demand has surged across the state. At a Wallgreens in Pinellas Park, flashlights were in short supply.
Hurricane Ian is now a Category 3 storm, as it made landfall in Cuba on Tuesday morning. In Florida, landfall is expected in the Tampa Bay area on Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency and said about 2.5 million residents are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. According to The New York Times, the evacuations are taking place in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties.
The latest weather forecasts show Ian is supposed to bring more than 15 inches of rain in areas from Tampa to Orlando, which makes major flooding a top concern.