Preparing for the Storm

According to which network you choose, Austin is now barely in range or barely out of range of the projected path of Rita. The general sentiment now seems to be that Rita will miss Austin, and that you don't want to be in Houston or Southwest Lousiana at this time tomorrow night.

Nevertheless that hasn't stopped consumers in Austin from acting like we are in the path of a storm, and that the apocalypse is looming. The Home Depot I work at has sold out of D-batteries, water both bottled and 5-gallon, generators, and propane. They were almost out of plywood, gas cans, and flashlights when I left work this evening.

However the craziness I thought my store was consumed by was nothing compared to what I encountered when venturing over to HEB (a local grocery store for those of you unfamiliar with the chain) at lunch. Not only was the store easily as busy as a Saturday on a weekday afternoon, but they were completely sold out of bread, flour tortillas (except for the low carb variety - apparently even the lingering threat of a serious storm can't clear those nasties out), and bottled water (and possibly other items those were the ones I happened to take note of).

There were dozens of people in suits, and noticeably work clothes who apparently used their lunch break (or perhaps left work early) to go buy groceries in the middle of the day, and most of them weren't stocking up on the non-perishables either. I saw plenty of carts full of dairy products and frozen foods. All of this made me wonder if perhaps this is all related to Katrina's aftermath.

It seems like a "buy it now and you won't have to loot it later" sentiment. Don't get me wrong I can understand the people buying flashlights and batteries, it was the people who felt they needed to stock up on bread, cheese, milk, and frozen dinners in the middle of the day that made me wonder.

The worst Austin is likely to face is flooding in low lying areas, and possibly some power outages. I'd like to think they are preparing for all those friends and relatives headed this way from houston, but I'm skeptical. There were quite a few people at home depot buying stuff up simply because everybody else wanted it and the urgency of the grocery purchasing seemed to follow suit. There's a certain fervor that seems to go along with shortages, and the gas stations selling out all over Austin in spite of the fact that few have made it here from houston yet is a prime example of that.

Nearly everyone I know topped off their tanks even if they really didn't need the extra gas, and one of our biggest sellers today were 15 gallon gas tanks which cost around $100 dollars each. This was all in anticipation of rising gas prices, power outages, and the possibility of running out (a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one). It seems like Austin could use a little price gouging right about now.

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If they would let them

If they would let them "gouge" then there would be gas trucks lined up waiting at the gas stations in anticipation of filling the in ground tanks as they run dry. The roads wouldn't be clogged with out-of-gas cars either.

15 gallon gas can: 

15 gallon gas can:  $100
Gas to fill can: ~$41.00
Potential sale price of gas after stations run dry:  $150

And after that, you've still got the can.

Yup, a little "gouging" would make that a lot less attractive.

Bloggers commenting on

Bloggers commenting on Hurricane Rita
Several bloggers on my regular rounds are in the path of Hurricane Rita and are commenting.

Beldar says that the enormous traffic jams in Houston are due to people who aren’t in the mandatory evacuation area leaving anyway. He’s in Hou...

You could have just checked

You could have just checked her bio, under 'Contributors'.

So just to be clear,

So just to be clear, Rainbough is a girl, right? :stupid:

You Austinites steeled

You Austinites steeled yourself for a disaster which passed you by, eh? ;-)

(Metallurgy pun, never mind me.)

I'm sure there were plenty

I'm sure there were plenty of people who had good reason to be in the grocery stores. However think about the idea of milk and bread selling out quickly when the possibility arose of Austin losing power. You gotta figure thats pure lunacy. Snow storms don't necessarily carry with them the possibility of a power outage - especially georgia snow. Or perhaps the milk sold out because lots of people were figuring other people were going to freak out and overeact regarding the storm. :wall:

As an Austinite myself, I

As an Austinite myself, I would like to speak out in defense of those using their lunch hours to buy perishables. In fact, I was one of them. Having lived my life in the southeast, I'm quite familiar with the occasional run on bread and milk when some local meteorologist mentions the word "snow." This past Thursday when we expected Austin to get some wind and rain from the edge of Rita, I knew that the Texas equivalent of the snow-paranoid Georgians would fill up the stores and do the same. Since I was approaching the bottom of my food rotation and needed frozen foods and chicken breasts, I knew I'd better get to the store as early as possible instead of later when the crowds would make the trip twice as long.

Don't get me wrong; people here were unnecessarily freaking out like crazy. (If I followed the friendly hurricane suggestions my apartment complex passed out, I still wouldn't be drinking any tap water since the authorities still haven't explicitly OK'd it.) I'm just saying there was definitely good reason to buy perishables during the day last week.