Food stores were rushed, power was knocked out, tornadoes, heavy rain, and high winds all passed through the tri-state area over the past few days. Considering the unfortunate fact that I work in a food store and live along the coast of the Jersey shore, I got to witness all of the madness from the storm, including feelings of widespread panic, fear, and even a little bit of excitement. I thought the entire weekend was entertaining and decided to document it. I’ve broken the weekend into three parts (pre-storm, the hurricane, and the aftermath).
Now let’s start at the beginning of all of the craziness.
Not only was New Jersey hit with an earthquake last week, but forecasts soon called for a category 3 hurricane to hit on Saturday evening. Now at first I thought it was going to be the same old story with the media blowing it way out of proportion. Every time there is a threat of a big storm people rush to the food stores to get “necessities” and make life hell for the employees. On Friday (the day before the storm), I had the luxury of working an 8 hour shift in grocery and in my four years of being with the company (I’ve decided to leave the store I work at anonymous for this article), I swear I have never seen a scene like the one I witnessed on that day.
I’ve seen the usual holiday shoppers and snow storm shoppers, but nothing compared to the crowd the hurricane threat brought out. Hundreds upon hundreds of people came in and out of the store, ransacking the “necessity” items, which usually include bread, milk, eggs, and juice. However this storm made people make a run for additional items including flashlights, candles, batteries, soup, for some reason chef boyardee, tuna and last but certainly not least bottled water. Every single case of water we had was bought this past weekend. When we would roll full pallets of it out to the aisle people would follow us, swarm and grab all of the bottled water they could leaving nothing but the plastic the pallet was wrapped in. I swear it was as if we were selling water that promised eternal life.
People ran and rushed through the store, as if the world was coming to an end. They would ask myself and fellow employees frantic questions like “Do you have any more batteries!?”. Unfortunately towards the end we sold out of batteries and flashlights too so we had to tell them we didn’t have anymore and they would harshly answer “How can you not have flashlights!” Maybe because we’re not a f***ing hardware store. If only I could have said that.
When the rush had come to an end Saturday and the first signs of the hurricane began to surface, the store looked like it had been robbed. The water aisle, bread aisle, soup aisle, milk case, and the ice machine lay barren with no product in sight. It was something I had never seen before and just goes to how panicked everyone was over the storm. A panic which the media always seems to create with the slightest threat of a storm…even though this time there were several people who were and are still being effected by the storm. More on that in part 2.
On the home front, my mother was just as paranoid as all the customers in the store. When I came home from work Saturday, every single outdoor decoration had been packed into our garage. The garage was so packed that you couldn’t even move around in there. She had also gone to the food store and bought lots of food and “storm needs” like batteries (a 48 pack of AA batteries I should add).
We had enough food to last weeks, a battery operated radio sit ready to go on the living room table, candles were placed in several of the rooms, and the brita was all ready to go in preparation for the hurricane.
All we could do was sit and wait, until eventually Irene arrived…