Shoppers load-up on storm supplies as Karen cranks up in Gulf

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Stores immediately went into storm mode, as soon as they received word about Tropical Storm Karen's projected path. Truck loads of supplies arrived Thursday morning and more are on the way. Many shoppers did not want to wait until the last minute to fill their carts with those essential storm items.

You didn't have to go far to find storm necessities at the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Gulfport. The main aisles were lined with pallets of water, gas cans, emergency radios, generators and more.

"We carry everything in the store at all times, so we try to get it in one spot to make it easier for them," said Lowe's Assistant Manager Dave Hall.  "Batteries, flashlights, water is already starting to go out the door."

Linda Justice was glad to see the extra supplies. She had a pretty long shopping list.

"The water, garbage bags, propane tank," said Justice. "I have to get gas in case I have to use the generator. I have to pick up extra batteries too."

Justice has family coming to visit just as Tropical Storm Karen cranks up in the Gulf.

"I'm a handicapped person. I can't drive and run away," said Justice.  "So I have to hunker up in the house and hug the dog and pray."

Many storm veterans know they need to stock-up as early as possible.

"I bought batteries and I bought a brand new flashlight, 'cause mine has gone kaput since Katrina. So I want to be prepared," said Earline Cuave of Saucier.

"We moved away a year after Katrina and we got homesick. I moved back home just in time for another one, so this is a surprise to start getting prepared all over again," said Shirley Hammett of Gulfport.

The Rouses store in Gulfport was also bracing for a rush of shoppers. A truckload of water arrived just in time.

"I've seen a lot of water. Water sales have increased drastically today," said Rouses Store Director Robert Strahan. "I've noticed that since Katrina, people start preparing early. Now, when they see the forecast and stuff like that, they start preparing."

"We're here to pick up some water for the storm coming and try to be prepared before the storm hits," said Clyde McClain of Gulfport.

McClain said he doesn't expect Karen to stir up too much trouble, but there's one lesson he's learned.

"Always got to be prepared ahead, just in case you're wrong," said McClain with a laugh.

"Some of us weren't prepared for Katrina and we were all scrambling afterwards and the stores weren't open, not that this one will be that bad. Hopefully, it'll be a little rain and wind and no loss of electricity," said Cuave.

Linda Justice gave another reason why she is always prepared.

"Because WLOX tells me to be prepared and you do it because if you don't, you're in trouble," said Justice.

The Rouses store is getting extra batteries, bread, and canned goods tomorrow. Lowe's is expecting another load of plywood. Store managers said they have a system set up so that in case they do run out of supplies, they make one phone call and can usually receive the supplies that same day.

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