Florida coast braces for Hurricane Dorian's landfall

Florida residents and their local supermarkets are both scrambling to stock up on essentials such as water and batteries before Hurricane Dorian barrels into the state's coast

Store workers "are not even bothering stocking the shelves, they’re just piling water on pallets in the aisles," said John Loudon, a 52-year-old West Palm Beach resident and chairman of Florida Citizen Voters. "It's the retailers making sure that everybody is supplied.”

Dorian is expected to grow into a Category 4 Hurricane by the time it makes landfall near the end of Labor Day weekend, according to The Weather Channel.

Loudon, who has lived in the area with his family for two years, snapped several photographs from the parking lot and interior of a Publix grocery on Thursday morning ahead of the storm.

"When I got there, there was not an open parking space, even in the overflow section," he said. "I've never seen it that packed."

The parking lot of a Publix supermarket in the Palm Beach area was filled with cars as Florida residents prepped for Hurricane Dorian. (Courtesy: John Loudon)

His photos show unusually bustling parking lots – which, he said, are typically emptier during the summer when so-called snowbirds have returned to their northern homes -- and store floors piled with packages of water bottles, while shelves remained empty.

“It may or may not hit at all,” he continued. “You have to plan for every contingency.”

Other Floridians took to Twitter as early as Wednesday night to express concerns and note observations from inside local markets.

In response to one Twitter user’s concerns, a Publix customer service representative wrote, “Rest assured that we are working around the clock to get as much water to our stores as quickly as possible, including operating our bottling facilities at maximum capacity to meet demand."

"Thank you for your understanding, and please stay safe," the tweet continued.