On Friday afternoon, grocery store shoppers across South Florida lined up at check-out with the usual fare: pints of strawberries, loaves of bread, boxes of mac and cheese.
But this time many of them towed giant packs of bottled water and paper towels in their carts.
A potential major hurricane that would be called Hurricane Ian is moving towards Florida. On Friday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 24 counties, including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade.
Many South Floridians are already preparing for the worst.
“We stocked up on a lot of water,” said Daniel Larsen, an employee at the ALDI in Delray Beach, as he unloaded boxes of bottled water from a cart. He gestured to the empty shelf in front of him. “Yesterday that was full. I come in, it’s empty.”
Earlier in the day, the store was “nuts,” the manager, George Hoxie said. A cashier at the store, Bianca Jacques, said the chaos arose from a register that wasn’t working, but the storm may have exacerbated things.
The mood on Friday was still fairly quiet. Many went about their errands as usual. Others who have been through many storms before said they weren’t nervous, just prepared.
But the weekend is when it will really get crazy, Hoxie said.
The National Weather Service is recommending that South Floridians begin preparing emergency supplies, including flashlights, batteries, canned goods and bottled water.
“We’re urging folks to get their kits ready,” Robert Garcia, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Friday.
Deja Wallace, who works for Instacart, said she has already seen hints of what’s to come.
“Stores are out of certain things, certain brands of water,” said Wallace as she bagged the six-plus quarts of almond milk that someone had ordered. Wallace has already prepared her own supplies.
Larsen, who moved to South Florida from New York three years ago, said his family has had their canned goods prepared for a while.
Meanwhile, Mary Sabino exited the check-out line with several 24-packs of water bottles and two huge packs of paper towels.
But she didn’t know about the storm. She just has a big family.
“They like to be hydrated,” Sabino said.