By HEATHER WOOD
hurricane: hit the grocery store with a plan.
Unless you have a generator, it’s best to avoid the freezer aisle; load your cart with nonperishables. Zach Moniz, manager of the Lindo’s Group of Companies, recommends that people stock up on essentials such as first aid kits, batteries, candles, matches and flashlights now to avoid the inevitable rush once a hurricane is on our radar. Another tip: don’t panic-buy – Bermuda’s grocery stores have enough nonperishable items to keep the island going for six weeks. Read more of his tips below.
Royal Gazette: What are the top things that people panic buy before a storm hits? Is there a noticeable difference between shoppers?
Zach Moniz: There are two kinds of hurricane shoppers: the prepper and the party animal. The preppers buy batteries, flashlights, charcoal, water and nonperishable foods. The party animal buys everything you would buy for a regular public holiday – potato chips, salsa, beer, burgers and hot dogs. Some of these shoppers are experiencing their first hurricane. Most people who have been through a stretch of time after a hurricane without power turn into preppers for the next storm. Then there are those who both prep and party….
RG: What are the worst things people buy out of panic?
ZM: Perishable foods. It’s OK to purchase food you will consume during the storm but don’t load the freezer up with ice cream. The power might go out.
RG: What should people be buying right before a hurricane hits?
ZM: Water! Water! Water! Batteries, flashlights, candles, nonperishable foods and maybe a bucket and rope in case you have to dip water out of your tank.
RG: What should they be buying at the beginning of hurricane season?
ZM: Things you can prepare for beforehand. Make sure your first aid kit is up to date. Most people don’t think about this in the heat of hurricane prep but there could be a few hours where the hospital is not accessible so it is important to have basic medical supplies in the house – bandages, rubbing alcohol, tweezers etc. You can also stock up on batteries beforehand. Other than that I think shopping the week before is OK.
RG: How busy does it get at stores before a storm compared with Christmas, with Easter? Are the lines longer than they were at the start of the pandemic?
ZM: The pandemic was an exceptional event that we hope to never see again. We had the supplies but we could not keep up the shelves with the speed at which customers were purchasing items. Hurricanes are comparable to local holidays, but the purchases are a lot smaller, and different items. There is also a heightened sense of anxiety from both staff and customers. Staff are anxious to get home and prepare and customers leave things to the last minute.
RG: Replenishing after a storm. How do you do it? How long does it take to restock Lindo’s? Do supplies have to typically wait to be shipped in?
ZM: We generally always have a generous supply of nonperishable goods which should last us about six weeks with normal shopping. It does not take us long to restock and we can usually keep up with customer demand. Perishable supplies must be shipped in and there is always a little delay with ships rerouting around hurricanes and the EMO ensuring our roads are safe to travel. The delay is probably unnoticed by the public.
RG: In advance of a storm, when do you shut down? How do you work the timing to make sure staff are able to get home and prep?
ZM: This is always a nightmare trying to figure out. We try to go by the EMO. We try to shut down about an hour or so before tropical winds begin. If certain staff require more time to prepare, we provide that on a case-by-case basis. I personally rely heavily on my wife to prepare the house. My wife will remove anything in the yard that could potentially blow away. At the start of hurricane season, I prepare all the shutter hardware so that when a hurricane is bearing down on us all I have left to do is shut the blinds.
RG: How soon after a storm do you typically open? What’s the longest you’ve been shut? Which storm caused that and what was damage to the island like?
ZM: Depending on when the storm hits, we are generally open as soon as possible. It is usually the day after the storm.
RG: Ever had any storm damage to stores?
ZM: Yes, minor damage to the façade and roof gutters as well as some roof as well as debris around the parking lots. Nothing catastrophic but enough to be a nuisance.