Florida among empty grocery shelves rationing as Hurricane Ian approaches

Floridians are rushing to stock up on basics like water and food ahead of Hurricane Ian, prompting a Publix supermarket to ration its bottled water supplies.

The supermarket chain said it has authorized stores to limit purchases of water and other essential items by customers as the violent storm approaches coastal areas of the state.

A Publix grocery store in St. Petersburg, Florida, is limiting households to buying two 24-packs or 32-packs of single-serving bottled water per day and four 1-gallon containers of water per day.

Hurricane Ian is on track to hit Florida as a major hurricane this week. Forecasters expect it to quickly intensify into a Category 4 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, before hitting the central west coast of Florida on Wednesday. Consumers often rush to buy water and other essentials ahead of major storms, which can cause shortages on store shelves.

“As we continue to monitor Ian, Publix locations may limit the number of items, such as water, to better serve the majority of our customers,” a Publix spokesperson said in a statement. “We have seen an increase in purchases of items like bread, water, batteries, and canned goods, just to name a few.”

On its website, the supermarket encourages people who may find themselves in the hurricane’s path to stock up on emergency supplies and food, such as water, powdered drinks, dried fruit, peanut butter and jelly, and baby formula. The chain has not yet capped purchases of bread, batteries, canned goods or other items for which it is seeing increased demand as Hurricane Ian moves toward Florida.

Shelves at another Tampa Bay-area Publix were sparse, with only individual bottles of water left.

Clearwater residents are also preparing for the storm by lining up to receive sandbags, which can prevent flood damage, and cleaning grocery store shelves. And Floridians are lining up at the pump.

Southeastern Grocers, which owns the Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarket supermarket chains and operates more than 500 supermarkets in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, said it is also seeing growing demand for items like bottled water, batteries and cleaning supplies.

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