Good luck buying lanterns, generators, propane, or ? if you?re really unprepared ? rain boots and batteries in areas in the path of Hurricane Sandy as it bears down on the U.S. East Coast.
The approach of the gigantic storm ? expected to come ashore Monday night ? set off a scramble this weekend for supplies from Virginia to New England, causing long lines at gas stations, bare shelves at hardware and home-supply shops, and a run on bread, bottled water and canned foods at grocery stores.
Big population centers including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston were in the hurricane?s path.
Gas pumps along the Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Connecticut, were covered with plastic bags.
?It?s been crazy. We?re the only one open who still has gas,? said Karen Tripodi a customer service representative at Cumberland Farms in Newington. ?They?re coming in for propane, ice, water, milk and cigarettes.?
At a Lowe?s store in Bowie, Maryland, the hot-selling items included generators, batteries, sandbags, sand, water, emergency radios, tarps, dry ice, lanterns, plywood, gas cans, propane, rain boots and rain suits.
Manager Eric Williams said, ?It seems to be a very busy day, but controlled.?
At Cosey Beach, Connecticut, which was under an evacuation order, homeowners scrambled to pack and board up windows.
?I can?t imagine what kind of damage this will do,? said Melissa Stone as she helped her father prepare to leave his home. ?It makes me sick, I can?t even think about it.?
Forecasters described the ?super storm? as a rare hybrid created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm, possibly dumping up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in some areas, as well as heavy snowfall inland.
On its current projected track, Sandy is most likely to make landfall between in the New York/New Jersey area and head inland toward Philadelphia, forecasters said. Many of the 50 million people in the storm?s path seemed to be paying attention and attempting to prepare.
Authorities expected widespread power outages, and many residents wanted generators to keep their homes with power in the event downed power lines leave their neighborhoods without electricity. Flashlights and batteries also were in demand.
The storm was expected to play havoc with road, rail and air transportation. New York City?s subway, bus and train service will be suspended on Sunday evening. Only once before have transportation officials taken such a step, when Hurricane Irene slammed the city in 2011.
John Fallon, store manager at Port Annapolis Marina in Annapolis, Maryland, had a crew of at least eight people working to get boats out of the water, tie them down and remove sales and canvasses. ?Today has been absolutely frantic,? Fallon said.