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Arctic rush left grocery store shelves empty

Jessica Cuffman • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Customers swarmed local grocery stores and their parking lots before the impending arctic front hit Northern Ohio Sunday night, bringing winds that created subzero temperatures.

After clearing shelves, Register readers holed up at home to escape the blustery weather Monday, giving in to their survival instincts and perhaps just good sense with snow emergencies and closed employers throughout the four-county region. At Kroger stores in Sandusky and Port Clinton, bottled water, bread, eggs and toilet paper flew off the shelves this past weekend as people prepared to hide away from the storm.

“Those are the areas where customers will see the shortages the most,” Jackie Siekmann said Monday, spokeswoman for Ohio Kroger stores. “They were very, very busy this weekend, with a high volume of customers coming through Saturday and Sunday.”

Employees were working to restock shelves across the state, but Level 3 snow emergencies across the northern part of Ohio kept some dairy supply trucks waiting at the Michigan border for the go ahead to finish their deliveries, she said.

“We do have teams working around the clock to try to get product to their stores,” Siekmann said. “The bottom line is, the shelves will be spotty the next few days.”

Areas further west, including Indiana, were hit harder than Ohio by the winter storm — ultimately effecting third-party suppliers such as General Mills and Campbell’s that shut down production temporarily.

Traffic snarled in parking lots at Walmart, Meijer and Kroger this weekend and lines at cash registers flowed into the aisles at times.

The pattern of stocking up before snowstorms is partially instinctual — but also cultural, said Hogan Sherrow, assistant professor of biological anthropology at Ohio University.

“From an evolutionary perspective, these behaviors do make sense to survive,” he said. “I think the impulse makes sense. I can see from a revolutionary sense that those in the past, our ancestors who stocked up survived.”

But our choices at the grocery store pre-snowpocalypse aren’t always so practical.

“There’s more of a cultural influence to this,” Sherrow said. “The thing that always kills me about what people buy from the store, is it isn’t always completely rational.”

Grabbing a loaf of bread during your pre-storm visit to the store? That makes sense. Other choices, maybe not so much.

“Having six gallons of milk if the power goes out isn’t going to help you,” he said.

Forecasters predict continuing sub-zero temperatures and wind chill advisories today.

Be sure to check sanduskyregister.com for updated listings of closings and cancelations.

Facebook chatter

How did you prepare for the storm and freezing temperatures? 

Anna Brown Riedmaier, Port Clinton: All is well. We all had plenty of warning, all family and pets in. No problems, thanks news media!

Paul Matthews, Sandusky: Two boxes of wine, one carton of cigarettes and a pound of bacon!

Mike Cheek, Sandusky: Nothing, not that big of a deal more annoying than anything.

Donna Corbin Yontz, Sandusky: We just made sure we had enough groceries since we live out in the country and got a few cases of bottled water, made sure the propane tanks were filled in case our power goes out we would have emergency heat for a little while. We made sure we had batters and flashlights.

Bob Gregory, Sandusky: Bought a propane heater in case power goes out, went to do shopping Friday night but only to miss the crowds, not because of the storm, would have gone shopping anyhow.

Renee Cagle, Fremont: Plenty of food and drinks, generator ready, wood for the wood burner if needed.

Nancy Ross, Sandusky: Groceries on Friday at Meijer, more groceries on Sunday at Kroger. I am all set. Plenty of food in the house, all is good.

Shane Sibley, Sandusky: Lots of beer and smokes.

Bryan Thom, Sandusky: Lit some candles, opened a bottle of red, turned on some Marvin Gaye and cried my lonely self to sleep.

Denise Bratt Jean Raney: We are letting faucets drip now, have food, water, blankets and dog in house. Hopefully we are prepared thanks to the heads up in advance.

Joseph Micheletti: I got bread and milk!

Victoria Shaffer Kritzell: We bought wine and pretzels, batteries for for flashlights, candles, and loaded our que in Netflix. Good to go!

Justin Simon: Wore my long johns under my clothes today along with a ski mask because I had to drive into work for a bit. At home, we got food ahead of time and movies playing.

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