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Got water? A generator? Florence preps for Florence

September 11, 2018
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Shelves that typically contain water were empty Monday afternoon at the Piggly Wiggly on Cherokee Road in Florence.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Melanie Witherspoon, a manager at Piggly Wiggly on Cherokee Road in Florence, said her store has bumped up its order on items people typically shop for during threats of storms: bread, milk, water, batteries and canned meat.

“You’ve got to feed the whole community,” Witherspoon said. “We’ll have a monster truck tomorrow.”

There was a rush of people at the Piggly Wiggly on Cherokee Road most of Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. Witherspoon said an emergency truck from Pepsi delivered two pallets of water to the store Monday, and that was all the store had left. Shelves that typically contained water were empty.

As of early Monday afternoon, the store’s milk and bread supply was good, but Witherspoon said that some people had not yet left work to shop.

Tekitia Goodson of Hartsville was one of several people who went to the Cherokee Road Piggly Wiggly on Monday to purchase items ahead of the Category 4 hurricane that is expected to make landfall Thursday.

“You never know if lights are going to go out or things like that, and you just want to be prepared,” Goodson said.

She said if power goes out and she is not able to heat her food, she’ll have sandwich meat and bread. And if she is unable to take a shower, she’ll have water stocked up to use.

Goodson she has been able to find everything in stores that she needs to prepare for the storm.

“I think it’s just basically getting it early in the week so you won’t make it hard for yourself,” Goodson said.

Ethan Rivera was another shopper who chose the Piggly Wiggly on Cherokee Road to shop for groceries prior to Hurricane Florence. He said he wanted to be prepared.

“With Matthew we were without power for a week,” Rivera said, referring to a 2016 hurricane. “I live off of Cherokee, and that part of town was without power for a real long time.”

Rivera said his go-to items Monday at Piggly Wiggly were beef jerky, Spam and baked beans. Everything he needed was available at the store, he said.

Piggly Wiggly on Cherokee Road plans to stay open as long as it is safe.

“We’re going to stay open until the last minute possible,” Witherspoon said. “We’re here for the community and for them to eat and drink and be fed.”

Early Monday afternoon, the Walmart Neighborhood Market received a load of water. The store was out of bread but was expected to receive more soon, according to a store employee.

The Walmart of Beltline Drive was expected to also receive another delivery of water. The store was stocked with milk and bread, an employee said.

Many people in and around Florence went out to purchase generators for their homes in preparation for power outages, leaving many stores without generators in stock.

Harbor Freight Tools and Home Depot were out of generators Monday afternoon without an estimate on what day another shipment will come in. Carolina’s Supply House will receive another shipment of generators at approximately noon today, according to Manager Michael Lassiter.

The Lowe’s on Freedom Boulevard received another shipment of generators Monday evening, and the Lowe’s on David H. McLeod Boulevard had 25 to 30 generators as Monday evening.

Jerri Small of Florence is preparing for the hurricane by getting charcoal to grill during the storm. Small said she originally went to Lowe’s to buy a table top propane burner, but the store was out of the burners.

“When Matthew hit, we lost power for about four days,” Small said. “So we had to grill out every day. We are trying to be a little bit more prepared this time.”

The city of Florence also is preparing for Hurricane Florence.

City Manager Drew Griffin said Monday at the city council meeting that the city staff was holding a meeting later Monday to organize for the impending storm. The city waited, Griffin said, because the staff wanted to have a general idea of what track the storm was likely to take.

One thing, Griffin said, helping the city was that conditions had been very dry, unlike during Hurricane Matthew. Matthew, thusly, caused many trees to fall.

The city’s storm drain system does have some capacity, Griffin added. He also said the city is ready to evaluate the personnel it needs to respond to the hurricane. Depending on what’s needed, additional staff and equipment can be placed in strategic places for a quicker response.

City of Florence Fire Chief Randy Osterman said the city is coordinating with the county’s emergency management division and acting as a working partner of that agency. He also said the city is attending briefings from that division and is receiving information from the state and the National Weather Service.

Morning News reporters Lauren Owens and Matthew Christian contributed to this report.

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