As Florida residents empty shelves, more supplies coming

Target, Home Depot, Walmart restocking before Hurricane Irma

ORLANDO, Fla. – People around Central Florida were already experiencing a shortage of supplies at grocery stores on Monday, but the managers of some big-box stores said they have reenforcements on the way.

Although Hurricane Irma is days away from potential impact, the current projected path shows it possibly hitting Florida as a Category 5 storm.

On Tuesday, shoppers lined up outside several stores, including Costco in Altamonte Springs, for a chance to get supplies, including water, batteries and food. (See video below.)

"(It was) a little bit of a pandemonium," shopper Diane Williams said. "Getting here was worse than being inside. It's just that everybody is panicked, so they are preparing, which is wise, but it's just, like, crazy."

Patrick Sutton, the assistant manager at the Home Depot in Altamonte Springs, said the store ran out of generators on Monday and water and flashlights by Tuesday afternoon. 

"I think everyone is more aware of what's going on because of what happened with Harvey in Texas," he said. "I was here in 2004 for Charley and it was not taken so seriously back then. Now, everybody is taking it more seriously, which allows them to get the supplies they need and gives us time to get the supplies soon enough."

Home Depot Corporate launched its Rapid Response Team, sending trucks from Atlanta to Florida on Tuesday to restock the shelves across the state.

"My trucks are on the road right now and will be coming in the next days. We have a couple of more days before the storm hits, so we have more time," Sutton said. "By the end of the week, they will have everything they need."

On Monday night, shoppers said, Publix in College Park was out of bottled water. A viewer also gave News 6 a picture showing empty water shelves at the Walmart on Alafaya Trail near the University of Central Florida.

Micah Kropp stopped by Publix in College Park and bought water by the gallon since that was the only option. He's also stocking up on canned food, crackers and diapers.

"I got a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, so (I've) got to think a little differently with them at the helm, and then will be traveling this week for work, so not sure when I will have the time. It will be kind of hectic," Kropp said.

A spokesperson with Target headquarters said Florida stores will be getting additional supplies and resources ahead of the storm.

"We’re providing stores with additional supplies that we know our guests need to stock up, including water, batteries, flashlights, toiletries, camping supplies, cleaning supplies and nonperishable food," Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck said. "We’ll continue to push as many products to our stores as we safely can before the hurricane hits." 

[RELATED: Watch live: Irma churns in Atlantic | Tropical Storm Jose forms in Atlantic]

News 6 picked up supplies at the Walmart located on the corner of Princeton Street and John Young Parkway. Supplies there were plentiful, with employees steadily restocking the water aisle.

Walmart management told News 6 Walmart has opened its emergency operations center at its headquarters in Arkansas for distribution.

Walmart spokesperson Ragan Dickens said the company is working with store managers to see where the needs are greatest. Dickens also said 800 trucks full of only water are on their way to Florida and other trucks full of hurricane supplies are also en route.

Pictures on social media showed empty water and bread shelves at other stores, including the Walmart on Alafaya Trail near UCF.

Min Cho said he's preparing for his electricity to go out.

"(I) ordered a generator on Amazon. Should be coming on Friday. Also, some dry foods and stuff like that," Cho said.


People are urged to fill their gas tanks before gas stations could see long lines and a supply shortage.

Cash will also be essential in the case of a power outage since ATMs would not be able to operate and businesses would not be able to process credit cards. 

Watch News 6 and stay with for updates.

About the Authors:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.