Crowds seek food, gas, just in case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2000

Procrastinators ruled the day on New Year’s Eve in the Miss-Lou.

People were buying groceries and emergency supplies, filling their gas tanks, getting extra cash and calling in for last-minute Y2K computer advice.

At 1:30 p.m., cars filled the parking lot of the Natchez Wal-Mart all the way to Seargent S. Prentiss Drive. Inside, several people will full carts waited at each checkout line.

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Ella Smith drove all the way from Fayette to stock up on water and groceries. &uot;I&160;wasn’t expecting these kinds of lines, but it’s worth it to be prepared,&uot; she said. &uot;I don’t want to be caught without it, in case the lights go out or something.&uot;

The crowd was also bigger than Assistant Manager Darrel Riggins expected. &uot;Some people — mostly from rural areas, I&160;think — are buying bottled water and generators, but most are buying basics,&uot; he said.

At Natchez Market 2, Narvelena Butler and family members filled a shopping cart full of bottled water and grocery staples. An extra checkout was open, making seven in all, and about four people were waiting at each. &uot;If I&160;don’t need all this stuff, I’m bringing it back!&uot; Butler joked to a friend.

&uot;I’ve been buying things for a while,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m hoping that nothing will happen with (Y2K), but I’m getting things just in case.&uot;

The store ordered several pallets of bottled water in recent weeks and had sold most of it by 1 p.m., said Assistant Manager Anne Bowman. Bread and canned meat products were also big sellers among those who had crowded into the store since its 6 a.m. opening.

Gas and alcohol were big sellers at area gas stations.

Desiree McGrew, an employee at Homochitto Exxon, said business was definitely up — especially sales of gasoline. &uot;We’ve made double what we usually make today,&uot; she said.

Plenty of procrastinators have been calling in to local computer shops as the clock ticks down to Y2K.

Bobby Kerrigan of Kerrigan’s Computer World in Vidalia has had many calls in the last few days. &uot;As long as you don’t do anything date-related, you shouldn’t have any problems,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve been able to alleviate a lot of fears that way.&uot;

Area bank officials say not many people are getting that extra stash of cash for the weekend. &uot;We’re leaning toward normalcy on that,&uot; said Deposit Guaranty President Sammy Porter, who noted that Friday was a payday for many bank customers.

United Mississippi Bank President Sammy Porter said the opposite effect has happened in the last month, with deposits up at the bank.

&uot;It’s been kind of different than what you’d expect,&uot; he said. &uot;There have been no major withdrawals.&uot;

Both Porter and Smith said they don’t expect any Y2K-related problems at the banks.