Residents bombard stores for water, Coke ahead of hurricane

  • Walmart in Palatka
    Walmart in Palatka
  • Hitchcock's in Interlachen
    Hitchcock's in Interlachen

As local residents continue to prepare for Hurricane Dorian, local stores are keeping watchful eyes out for their customers and community. 

As the sense of urgency surrounding Dorian has increased, residents have rushed off to grocery and hardware stores throughout Putnam County to stock up on water, flashlights and more. Hitchcock’s Market in Interlachen is one of many stores that has seen large crowds in recent days. 

“It has been chaotic. Chaotic is the only word I can use to sum it up,” grocery manager Richard Walker said. “Everyone is wanting water. When they aren’t getting water, they are getting Coke.” 

With Hitchcock’s serving as the primary grocery store in Interlachen, Walker said the store has made sure to track supplies and ensure residents are covered. He said Friday the store had sold all water except for flavored waters, but it should be receiving more today. 

“Besides Dollar General and Family Dollar, we are pretty much the main store here,” Walker said. “We are a community-driven store. We try our best to supply for the community.” 

In South Putnam, Hill’s Hardware has seen electronic appliances and propane fly off of the shelves. Manager Kristian Unruh said the store made it a priority to prepare before the hurricane season started to ensure residents could get supplies during rushes. 

“We are selling a ton of propane right now and four-prong generator cords, we are selling a ton of those,” he said. “I think everyone in the county is out of the four-prong generator plugs, and we still got them. I had probably about 80 of them before the storm even came. We were prepared this time.”

Unruh said the store is making preparations to ensure they are open and able to help residents as the storm starts to affect the area. It is important employees are able to help as many of their customers and neighbors as possible, he said. 

“We have a backup generator here, And if everybody is out of power, we will still be running here, filling propane and taking care of our customers,” he said. “That is our No. 1 goal right now.” 

Amid the chaos in local stores, residents are thankful businesses are looking out for their needs before the storm. Susan Wallace of San Mateo said it has been hectic when she has tried to buy water and batteries, but she knows stores are doing everything they can. 

“It has been hard to go anywhere. People are just driving to every store,” she said. “But I am glad some stores are looking out for the community during this. That is what Putnam does.”