Empty shelves everywhere, but retailers say supplies are on the way

For consumers stocking up on hurricane supplies, help is on the way.

Walmart Stores said it has activated its Emergency Operations Center for Hurricane Irma to “get those shelves stocked as soon as possible,” said Ragan Dickens, director of national media relations. “This is an all-hands-on-deck operation.”

He said 800 truckloads of supplies were deployed Tuesday from its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and are on the way to Florida with water, flashlights, batteries, ready-to-eat foods and other supplies. They will be routed to the stores with the most needs, he said.

The Home Depot has also been mobilizing supplies to the area “as quickly as possible,” said spokesman Matt Harrigan. “We will continue to do so all week. Many of those trucks come from a network of distribution centers where we’ve pre-staged loads of hurricane supplies ahead of the hurricane season, including our hurricane distribution center in Lakeland.”

Wal-Mart and Home Depot were far from the only stores with empty shelves as South Floridians filled social media timelines with photos of empty shelves at stores including Publix and Wal-Mart. Calls late Tuesday to Publix’s office weren’t returned, but a Publix in Pembroke Pines said it expected additional supplies at 7 a.m. Wednesday, while a store in Doral said it did not know when it would be getting more water.

On Twitter, Casey Ayers suggested thinking outside the big box stores and Publix for supplies. He found stacks of water and other supplies at Staples.

Diligence and patience is advised, though. A clerk at a Miami CVS said Tuesday morning that as soon as he restocks the water displays, the boattles are gone within five minutes.