As Hurricane Irma continues to advance toward Florida, a tour of Manatee County gasoline stations revealed that outlets like Wawa, 7-Eleven and RaceTrac did have gasoline Thursday, but in limited amounts.
Manatee motorists seeking gasoline told the Bradenton Herald that while many stations only had premium Wednesday or none at all, it was easier to find regular unleaded Thursday — although it took visiting a few stations.
Besides gasoline, there is a long list of other items that consumers were struggling to find Thursday, including bottled water, flashlights, batteries, plywood, gas cans, generators, first aid kits, water filtration units, waterproof safes and Stop Leak.
Crucial supplies seem to go within hours of hitting the sales floors of area stores.
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For example, The Home Depot, 2330 Cortez Road W., Bradenton got a shipment of 10 pallets of water, 47 generators and 96 gas cans Wednesday and had it out when the store opened Thursday morning, said Sean Brown, the store manager.
All of the items were sold by 11 a.m., leaving the store temporarily out, Brown added.
The store was already out of plywood and won’t be getting anymore, Brown said.
“We do still have some flashlights and batteries that we got in Thursday morning on emergency shipment,” Brown added. “After those sell, we will be back out of flashlights and batteries.”
“They are protecting their houses by covering their windows,” Brown added. “Obviously, lots of water. We have sold more than 25 pallets of water in the past few days. Flashlights, batteries, anything that is going to keep their house from leaking, like Stop Leak. Anything to do with safety, including first aid kits, water filtration units and we have even sold a lot of waterproof safes.”
While he may get one more shipment of goods before the storm hits, all Home Depot lumber deliveries are now going toward Miami, Brown said.
Never-before-seen empty shelves
As he took a visitor on a tour of his store Thursday, Brown pointed out amazing things that he had never before seen in all his 26 years as store manager, like the lumber department’s shelves being totally empty of plywood.
While he has never seen a consumer reaction like this in Manatee County, Brown said it’s understandable with Irma coming on the heels of Hurricane Harvey.
“Everyone is more cautious, as they should be cautious,” Brown added. “And even if they don’t use the stuff for Irma they can have it in the future, so it is a good investment.”
Gasoline search finally a success
On Thursday morning, Bradenton’s Tami Pace tried to get gasoline and finally found some at a Wawa on 14th Street West in Bradenton.
“I’ve been to Mobil, the Shell on Cortez Road, the other Shell on Cortez and I’ve been to the 7-Eleven,” Pace said. “We just followed the route up until we could find the gas.”
Bob Stein of Palmetto said he had no problem finding gasoline Thursday. He was pumping at the 7-Eleven at the corner of 14th Street West and Ninth Avenue West in Bradenton.
“My wife works over at Ballard Elementary and her car was empty,” Stein said. “I don’t know how much they have but they have regular and I’m filling it up.”
Stein did notice that gasoline was more scarce on Wednesday.
“I saw a lot of stations that didn’t have gasoline, but I found one that did, although I had to buy premium,” said Stein, who said he paid $3.49 a gallon for the premium.