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Hurricane Irene: Home Depot, other outlets swamped ahead of storm

Hurricane Lines out the doors. Shelves emptied of stockpiles of generators, water bottles, batteries. Hurricane Irene is coming this weekend and East Coast residents are raiding stores to prepare.

The storm is expected hit Saturday and tear its way from the Carolinas up through Massachusetts -- smack in the middle of what was supposed to be one of the year’s busiest shopping seasons for retailers.

But instead of selling back-to-school gear such as binders and clothes, companies such as Walmart and Sears are watching customers scramble to buy tarps, prepackaged foods and cleaning supplies.

BJs Wholesale is sending extra deliveries of batteries, generators, dry grocery items and water to its locations, the chain said.

Through the end of the month, 57% of BJs stores could be affected by Irene, according to Planalytics Inc., which tracks the impact of weather on businesses.

Home Depot is operating a Disaster Response Command Center out of Atlanta with emergency response teams monitoring and replenishing supply at its stories, the company said. It has sent out more than 500 trucks to keep stores stocked with plywood, gas cans and more as demand shifts from the South Atlantic locations up the coast. 

“Our goal is to be the last retailer open and the last to close while keeping associates and customers safe,” Home Depot said in a statement.

Retailers are also planning for post-Irene needs, with recovery products such as pumps, trash bags and chainsaws at the ready.

RELATED:

Hundreds of flights canceled as Hurricane Irene nears East Coast

Hurricane Irene: New York battens down for a dark, wet weekend

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Jim Abel shops for hurricane supplies at a Home Depot in West Palm Beach, Fla. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

 
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