METAIRIE, La. – Thousands of shoppers like Rollie Rabin stocked up Monday for an anticipated winter storm.
“I needed water and ice and some perishable items,” said Rabin. “I was scared my electricity was going to go out or we weren’t going to have running water.”
By 5 p.m., more than 2,300 shoppers had come through the Dorignac's checkout aisle, said manager Tony Fasullo.
It's a rush the store wasn’t expecting. They called in extra cashiers, but the lines were still long.
“It has been busy since 8 this morning it has not stopped,” said Fasullo.
“There are tons of people here. I don't think I've seen so many people in line since Katrina, really,” said Rabin.
Items like bread, water, hot dogs and batteries were selling fast. Duraflame logs were close to selling out, Fasullo said.
If the store runs out of any items, they won't be able to restock until Wednesday because the freeze will likely hit their supplier, too, Fasullo said.
Freezing conditions are unusual for the region, but shoppers say they’re used to preparing for inclement weather. They liken gearing up for the winter storm to preparing for a hurricane.
“You get the batteries, the water, you know, and stay in,” said shopper Dolores Diecidue.
“New Orleans and being in the South, you are always used to being prepared,” said Rabin.
Stores like Mary’s Ace Hardware had sold out of heaters by Monday afternoon. They don’t plan to get more in until Friday.
“Pipe insulation and weather stripping, people are still buying that,” said cashier Monique Washington.
“It's going to be really cold tomorrow and I didn't finish from the last freeze so I'm just getting a little extra [pipe] insulation,” said shopper Soren Peterson.
Managers at Massey's Outfitters say hundreds have been stocking up on winter clothing over the last few days.
“We brought some extra things in for people that want to get those last minute items,” said Chris Fowler, Massey's assistant manager.
And across the metro area, people are gearing up to stay inside for the next days until and bracing for what could be the worst winter storm the region has seen in years.
While some businesses plan to close Tuesday and Wednesday due to anticipated icy road conditions, Massey’s, Dorignac’s, and Mary’s Ace Hardware will remain open.
People are warned not to drive unless absolutely necessary once the freeze begins to set in Tuesday morning.