Grocery store companies are working on ways to keep their stores supplied in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Deliveries are being hampered by the road closures related to flooding and downed trees caused by Tropical Depression Florence, which was previously a hurricane. Interstate 95 is closed for most of the southern part of the state from Benson to the South Carolina state line.
“We will continue to work around any transportation restrictions that exist,” said Emma A. Inman, a Food Lion spokeswoman. “With any weather event, our focus is to help our customers prepare and get the items they need for their families, but also to prepare for the aftermath and their everyday grocery needs.”
Kim Reynolds, a Publix spokeswoman, said company officials believe that preparation is key in meeting customers’ needs.
“We’ve been following the storm for several weeks now and began building up inventories of hurricane supplies in our warehouses as well as shipping those supplies to stores beginning last weekend,” she said. “In addition to regularly scheduled deliveries, we increased the frequency of deliveries on hurricane essentials, including water, shipping trailer loads of supplies to stores daily.”
The company’s emergency response team is continually monitoring the storm and the related road closures, Reynolds said.
“Publix is seen as an essential need in the community and thus we we work very closely with local municipalities on getting supplies into our stores, providing it is safe to do so,” she said.
A post on Wal-Mart’s blog said that at 9 a.m. on Sunday, 54 of the company’s stores were closed due to the hurricane. Those that were open were trying to meet customers’ needs.
“As first responders and rescue crews work to assess the damage from Florence, our stores, clubs and distribution centers continue to get calls for additional supply shipments,” a separate post said.
The company posted on its Facebook page that it had sent 300,000 cases of water to the area impacted by the storm, with more on the way.
Before Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, workers in Food Lion stores worked “around the clock” to keep shelves stocked and stores open as long as possible, Inman said.
“They are also hard at work now ensuring that our stores have the products and services our customers need to recover from the storm,” she said.
Publix officials realize how important a grocery store is before and after a major storm, Reynolds said. Among the most purchased items before the storm were bread, water, flashlights, batteries, snacks and canned goods, she said.
Wal-Mart has shipped about 2.7 million cases of water to the area impacted by the hurricane, according to the company’s blog. Other totals were 900,000 packs of batteries, 1,400 generators, 4.6 million cans of fruits and vegetables, and 1.9 million boxes or bags of cereal.
“All told, we've shipped more than 730 truckloads of water and more than 660 truckloads of emergency-type merchandise,” the blog said.
Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3572.