Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Florence – a Category 2 storm that experts say has the potential to wreak havoc along the Carolina coast – residents were frantically preparing, emptying store shelves of essential supplies like generators and gasoline.
One store that’s been quintessential to supplying all of those needs is North Carolina-based Lowe’s.
Although Lowe’s has been forced to close 50 stores because of the hurricane (and could see up to 200 closed as the storm approaches), it initially kept its doors open to deal with an influx of customers.
Already, the home-improvement chain has shipped out 2,700 truckloads filled with hurricane-related supplies like water and generators, as well as post-storm items like shop-vacs, sump pumps and tarps, according to Lowe’s Vice President of Store Operations Jennifer Thayer.
“Some people know, coming into hurricane season, that you should prepare, because you never know,” Thayer said on Thursday during an interview with FOX Business’ Liz Claman. “But honestly, a lot of times, we don’t see that happen, right up until a storm’s about to hit.“
As Florence approached the coast, rain and wind began lashing North Carolina early Thursday afternoon. Experts warned that the life-threatening storm could pour between 20 inches and 30 inches of rain along some parts of the Carolina coast, and winds could reach 105 miles an hour.
Lowe’s has activated its command center in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and is working to get critical supplies to stores in the impacted areas. According to a news release from the company, it has already shipped more than 325 truckloads of supplies to areas that are expected to see major damage from the storm.
Most important though, according to Thayer, is to ensure you have the essential items first -- water, batteries and flashlights -- and secure personal belongings like your birth certificate and Social Security card.
“Things like generators and shingles and tarps, it all just depends on how the storm hits, whether it’s a wind event or a water event,” she said, adding, “And then if you’re asked or told to evacuate, you do that. These storms are big, they’re serious, and they’re unpredictable.”