If you're heading out for some last minute Hurricane Sandy preparation shopping today, you might want to think about calling ahead first to see if there's anything left.
At supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the region shelves that once carried water and bread are mostly bare, save for the odd bottle of Perrier or package of whole wheat buns left waiting for the next desperate shopper. It's even more dour at hardware stores, where shelves have been picked clean of everything from generators to batteries.
At a CVS in Shrewsbury and a Rite Aid in Tinton Falls, employees who answered the phones Saturday night said they were completely out of water. Sunday morning, supermarkets like Acme in Shrewsbury and Foodtown had their shelves cleaned out but still had some cases of water available on pallets. Employees with both stores said they believed they would have enough water to satisfy the demand.
At Lowes in Eatontown, there's nothing left, one employee said. Generators were sold out days ago and as of yesterday, all other associated hurricane prep materials had been snatched up.
"We don't have anything," a Lowes employee said early Sunday morning. "We don't have flashlights, we don't have batteries, we don't have sand. We have nothing left."
Experts are concerned that Sandy could have a devastating impact on the east coast, especially New Jersey where it's slated to hit Monmouth and Ocean Counties directly Monday. Heavy rains, average winds of around 30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 80 mph, as well as Monday's full moon tide could lead to tidal flooding like nothing the region has seen before.
Before 9 a.m., Mandi Collins wheeled her cart out of Acme with a case of water and other necessities like canned soup and beans. She said she lost power for a couple of days last year following Hurricane Irene and hopes that's the worst of it this time around, too.
While Irene petered out when it hit land, turning into a tropical storm and only causing minor flooding inland, Collins said you never know what to expect.
"All you can do is hope and pray," she said.