Miss-Lou stores busy as people prepare ahead of Hurricane Ida

Published 8:33 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

NATCHEZ — Extension cords, flashlights, bread, gas cans and generators are disappearing from store shelves as people prepare for Hurricane Ida, which is expected to possibly reach the Louisiana coast as a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday.

“Everybody is buying AC’s extension cords and we have sold out of generators. I’ve got another generator truck that will be here tonight,” said Bill Stahlman, store manager at Stine in Natchez.

Other store items that are selling quickly should have another shipment come in at approximately 10 a.m. Saturday, he said.

“Gas cans we are sold out of … batteries, extension cords, plugs, flashlights, lanterns and all of that stuff is headed to me tomorrow.”

Stine was one of many stores in the Miss-Lou area that lost power during Hurricane Delta in October 2020.

“We have a backup generator that will kick on and is ready to go (if we lose power),” Stahlman said. “We also have on the go credit card readers. If we’re not fully prepared, we’re getting there.”

Barry Loy, president of Supermarket Operations, also noticed more customers rush buying food items at The Markets grocery stores in the Miss-Lou.

“I’d say it was selling more than a typical Friday afternoon,” he said. “I haven’t made it to every store today but I did notice we were running out of bread, water and a lot of other things. We will have trucks to replenish in the morning.”

He added certain products like Gatorade and Powerade are already in shorter supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Store shelves were not the only thing emptied on Friday.

Tom Graning, owner of Go Mart, said he witnessed a “big rush” on fuel starting early Friday morning.

“We will run out but we’ll be able to get more overnight,” he said. Go Mart’s pumps close at 11 p.m. daily and open at 5 a.m., he said.

Graning said his concern is losing power.

“I wasn’t able to get a large generator for the store. I have a small one so I’ll be able to keep the cash registers open. We will still be able to cook because we have a gas stove. If we do lose power, hopefully it won’t be for long.”

Shortly after Delta, hundreds of customers from Louisiana and parts of Mississippi who lost power lined up at Stine looking for generators. Stahlman said one shipment may have approximately 200 generators dependent on the product availability and the need at other Stine stores.

Stine plans to stay open during normal business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“As of right now, we plan to be open but we are continuing to monitor the storm and if need be, we will make adjustments. We have a system where we can text all of our employees at one time,” he said.

Loy said The Markets plan to stay open, “as long as it’s safe enough for our employees and if people can get to work.” If road conditions are bad enough that enough employees cannot safely come in, stores might have to make adjustments, he said.

“It all depends on safety,” Loy said. “We have generators to stay open at every location.”