Here's what to do with all your leftover Hurricane Dorian supplies

Some items can be returned

The bottled water, batteries and other supplies you bought before Hurricane Dorian should be kept in case another storm strikes.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A lot of people in Central Florida bought a lot of supplies to get ready for Hurricane Dorian. 

Now many are wondering what to do with all the extra food, water and sandbags they have lying around their home.

News 6 wanted to know if you can return or donate any of that extra stuff and you may be surprised at what we discovered. 

At a Lowe's Home Improvement store in Orlando, the store manager said while you can't return unused bottled water, you can return unused, uncut plywood. You can also return chain saws, generators and tarps that are still in the box with a valid receipt.

"If it hasn't been damaged by the weather or doesn't have screw holes in it -- our policy is the same," said Chuck Brown, Lowe's store manager at the 5700 West Colonial Drive store. "So you can return it if it is not damaged."

At least one family on Thursday returned a generator at that Lowe's store.

"We've seen a few returns," Brown said.

News 6 also checked local grocery stores to see if anyone was returning their unused hurricane supplies. 

Lucky's store manager Tim Mathias said he hasn't seen anyone returning snacks and water they bought in preparation for the storm, and he recommends for people to go ahead and keep them.

"This early in the season, it is too early to be out of water," Mathias said. "We'll have a few more (hurricanes) I'm afraid, so hang onto them."

Another thing to hang on to: your sandbags. 

Brown said as long as they are dry, they can last for months. The same goes for bottled water.

But what if you want to donate your extra perishable goods and water to help those hit hard by Hurricane Dorian, such as the people of the Bahamas?

Experts recommend keeping your unused supplies because hurricane season isn't over.

News 6 Investigators checked in with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, where workers and volunteers are busy collecting and delivering food to those in need. However, they are not collecting any food for those on Grand Bahama island.

"Our hearts go out to the people of the Bahamas who are feeling that need right now and a lot of people in the community want to help," said operations manager Greg Higgerson with Second Harvest Food Bank. "We are a domestic relief organization, not an international relief organization." 

Higgerson said they supply food to local food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and senior centers in six Central Florida counties.

Although they do have a link on their website that directs you to organizations where you can help the Dorian Relief Efforts in the Bahamas.

Higgerson said for now, you should really hold on to your supplies. 

"Don't give that stuff away too quickly if you don't want to repurchase it in two, three, four, five weeks," Higgerson said.

Higgerson said if you do have food you want to donate, you can bring it to their Mercy Drive Orlando warehouse, and that donation could end up helping a family in Central Florida who may have lost wages when shops closed down during the storm.

"Believe it or not, for a low-income family that can be a real challenge," Higgerson said.

But Higgerson said if you really want to help, donate your money, not your stuff.

"Just throwing products at the disaster can create a disaster within the disaster," Higgerson said.

A Publix spokesperson said some items returned may be thrown out.

"Hurricane season is still active through November. In the spirit of having a culture of preparedness, it is always a good idea to have an ample supply of shelf-stable items on-hand. However, if a customer elects to returns items they've purchased, we would discard perishable items. We cannot ensure that that the cold-chain has been maintained and we cannot risk time and temperature abuse. As always, we have a Publix guarantee, and a refund would be issued," Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens said in a statement.