Stores emptied as residents stock up on water, supplies

People are rushing to stores and gas stations to stock up ahead of the storms, and retailers are scrambling to keep up with demand.

At the Iwilei Costco, the gas station has been busy ever since it opened Tuesday morning. It’s been a steady line of drivers, all of whom say they’re not taking any chances.

“Because I was empty,” Jackie Collins said. “We came last night, but it was too crowded, so I thought, well, today, I better go.”

Inside the big-box store, there was a mad dash for toilet paper, paper towels and water.

Scott Ankrom of Costco said “we’ve already gone through two containers of water today. We’re bringing up more as it becomes available. We’re getting it out of the holding yard. As soon as we can release it, we bring it up and unload it.”

“I’m here and no more water,” said customer Lisa Viela. “So we’re going to bottle up water at home now and just pray for the best.”

Shoppers were also stocking up on saimin, which was brought into the store this morning.

“Because of the recent threat of the port strike,” said Ankrom, “we’re able to bring in excess amounts of product and have it held with our local vendors. Now we’re sitting on top of it.”

Vendors and distributors are working around the clock to keep up with the demand.

Martin Transportation has been hustling between Costco and the pier.

Thomas Pedro said “I came here about eight times already and still gotta fight to get in the docks.”

Next door to Costco, residents swarmed Home Depot. “Getting buckets for drinking water and tape for all purpose, emergency, whatever,” said customer Daryl Cardines.

Cost-U-Less, Hilo
Cost-U-Less, Hilo

But this Home Depot has run out of bottled water and propane. More propane was expected this evening. The bottled water? Not until tomorrow.

“(People are) also buying tarps for protection, raincoats, any kind of buckets just to save up supplies and what not,” said Michael Duarte of Home Depot.

While many residents fought the crowds and long lines, some decided not to.

“I walked into Costco and I turned right around after I saw the lines going down the aisles,” said Gregg Tanaka.

It was also a little busy at the ATMs inside Costco. The Hawaii Red Cross advises you to have at least $100 cash on hand.

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Crowds gathered before stores even opened Tuesday morning. Benita Trujillo and Dominic Gomez snapped photos of their nearby Costcos (Hawaii Kai and Lihue respectively) showing people ready with shopping carts at 10 a.m.

Viewer Paul Klink sent in a photo of empty shelves at the Kapolei Walmart, where the bottled water is usually kept.

And on the Big Island, one KTA Super Stores in Hilo is limited bottled water and rice purchases to two cases per person.

“Because we’re on an island and we depend on the barges on Oahu and the mainland, we’re only limited, so we try to give every family a share,” said KTA Center Store Manager Sanford Toma.

At the Cost-U-Less store in Hilo, there were long lines at the checkout stand throughout the day.

The store manager says the store has run out of bottled water and doesn’t expect a new shipment to arrive until Thursday or Friday.

But so far there is ample supply of essentials like toilet paper, rice and batteries.

Walmart (Photo: Paul Klink)
Kapolei Walmart (Photo: Paul Klink)
Costco in Hawaii Kai (Photo: Benita Trujillo)
Costco in Hawaii Kai at 10 a.m. (Photo: Benita Trujillo)
Costco in Lihue (Photo: Dominic Gomez)
Costco in Lihue (Photo: Dominic Gomez)
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