North Fork stores, residents stockpiling for ‘Frankenstorm’

10/26/2012 4:22 PM |
Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, Mattituck, Riverhead

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Waldbaum’s staffers said people had already started cleaning out store shelves by Friday afternoon. But more provisions were on the way.

It was the calm before the storm in stores across the North Fork leading into this weekend.

Customers were beginning to buy up gas cans and flashlights by mid-day Friday, said Jamesport True Value Hardware co-owner Richard Dituso, who was expecting even more of a rush as Sunday approached.

Few shoppers were in the aisles at Waldbaums in Mattituck Friday afternoon, though the store had sold out of large bottles of water.

Scan administrator Patti Hooks said the store was expecting another water shipment later that afternoon, as well as extra shipments of canned goods and batteries.

“They’re sending in more pallets. We’re certainly getting prepared,” said the supermarket’s front end manager, Liz Lynch.

While she said there’d been chatter at the register about the hurricane between customers and cashiers, she said she believed most people were still at work and would not be coming in to stock up for the storm until the weekend.

“I’m not reacting myself. Maybe I should,” she said.

The store managers were planning to hold a conference call with regional managers later that afternoon to discuss storm plans.

Ms. Hooks said she doubted the store would change its hours of operation, which is currently 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

At the front registers, amid the displays of Halloween candy, store employees had modified their holiday greeting in anticipation of what’s being called “Frankenstorm.”

“Happy Hurricane,” said employee Karen Keller to a reporter as she cleaned up the register area in anticipation of the coming rush.

At the Home Depot on Route 58 in Riverhead, some locals were stocking up on batteries and sandbags to outlast the storm.

Joe Intonato of East Moriches said he was buying supplies to clean up after the storm. His 92-year-old mother lives near the ocean in Mastic, he said, and her basement becomes flooded during each major storm; she refuses to move farther inland.

“She never wants to leave,” Mr. Intonato said.

The East Moriches resident said he enjoys the rush before a hurricane hits, thinking back to storms decades ago with a kind of fondness. He says he thinks this year’s storm could be interesting.

“It’s going to be an adventure,” he said.

Another man was at the store looking to purchase a generator. The man, who did not give his name, didn’t buy one before Tropical Storm Irene and had no power for four days after the storm, he said. This time, he and his family will be prepared for whatever the Frankenstorm brings.

“They said [Irene] was a once-in-a-century storm,” he said, “and here we’ve got two in a year.”

byoung@timesreview.com