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Supply chain issues exacerbated during hurricane season

WPTV hurricane generic satellite map with flags
Posted at 8:28 AM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 11:35:51-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — You ever see something at the store that you don’t need right now, but when you do need it, it’s gone?

Consumers are dealing with this more frequently due to supply chain issues, and and it’s a problem you don’t want to run into in an emergency, especially during hurricane season.

Water is usually the first thing people buy at the grocery store to prepare for hurricane season, but you’ll be surprised to see what items you may also need to get through a storm that are missing from store shelves.

It’s like nothing store owners have seen before.

Joselyn Guerrero at Jumbo Supermarket in Greenacres, Florida, said the store is ordering more than it needs, but the quantities of certain products arriving are less and less.

Baby formula, distilled water, and certain types of cereal rarely make it on store shelves. And while families are making do for the week with what’s in stock, there’s real concern should a hurricane hit South Florida.

"It’s been a while since we’ve had a hurricane, so I’m struggling to remember," shopper Hyann Jimenez said.

Loading up on water, Jimenez said he hasn’t been paying attention to what items are scarce in stores.

Photos snapped at a Florida grocery store Thursday showed empty pet food shelves, almost empty baby formula shelves, and even low stock for charcoal and cases of water, all items you might need in a hurricane. And the impact goes beyond groceries.

"We’ve had some hard times getting power equipment," said Dave Rich, the manager of Ace Hardware in Greenacres.

Rich said they have what you need for a storm right now, but power tools, nuts and bolts, and generators have all been difficult to order.

"They actually release certain tools each morning, so it's kind of labor intensive. We have to be online when it's released. We have a few minutes to get the order in or they’re gone," Rich said.

Usually the store has six to 10 generators for sale. Rich said right now, he has three.

There was also a shortage of propane tanks recently, which you’d need to fire up your gas grill if the power goes out.

It’s not just the scarcity of these items that consumers should be thinking about. It’s the limitations stores put in place if we get placed in a cone of uncertainty.

"When a storm is coming this direction and there’s a line at the door, we only allow 'X' number of people in at a time," Rich said.

While there’s no shortage of activity in the tropics, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re not short on the items you need.

"The activity is pretty worrisome, and considering we haven’t had a major hurricane in years, I feel like, yeah, keeping an eye would be more responsible," Jimenez said.

This article was written by Michelle Quesada for WPTV.