Eye on the Tropics

Stores stripped of supplies, lines form at gas stations as Hurricane Irma looms

ORLANDO, Fla. — People across Central Florida are making sure their families are prepared should Hurricane Irma have an impact on the region.

The storm reached Category 5 status as it continued to churn toward the northeast Caribbean and Florida.

Governor Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency.

Its impact on Central Florida is still unclear, but that hasn’t stopped residents from taking every precaution and clearing out shelves at stores.

Water and other supplies

Orange City resident Scott Sheffield was working hard Tuesday to prepare for the storm and make sure his family had everything it needed.

"This is a nasty storm," he said. "I've got a bad feeling in my gut about it."

Being ready for a storm like Hurricane Irma means having a lot of water on hand, Sheffield said.

"Have a lot of water storage," he said. "Some for drinking, some for waste. Just stocking up when you can find it now."

Finding water, though, has become more and more difficult as the storm gets closer to Central Florida.

The Target store on East Colonial Drive had empty shelves as customers scrambled to grab any supplies they could get their hands on.

“Just picked up some water. They don’t really have water anywhere. I’ve been to a couple places now,” said Orlando resident Heath Granger.

The store limited water cases to two per customer, and the cases ran out within minutes.

“It’s like, when you see it start to thin out, then you start to get concerned,” said Granger.

Target released a statement that said its teams are working across the state to supply stores with additional supplies, including water.

It anticipates closing some stores over the weekend.

Other stores, including Publix and Walmart, have also run out of bottled water ahead of the storm.

A Publix spokesperson told Channel 9 that the chain prepares for hurricanes and was working with suppliers to keep up with the increasing demand.

Residents were not completely without options Tuesday, but the secondary market for bottled water was pricey, with at least one person advertising bottled water on Craigslist for $35 a case.

Amazon also listed bottled water on its site, but prices ranged from $16 to $25 a case.

Sheffield said he made sure to be prepared for Irma after living through Hurricane Andrew with limited water supplies.

"Three weeks without power. Two weeks without running water," he said. "It was pretty nasty."

Gas and Propane

Skywitness 9 flew over Costco in Altamonte Springs, where there was a line circling around the business as people waited two hours for propane and gas.

Orlando resident Stephanie Young came to Costco with her young son ready for a long wait.

“I’m hoping to get all my propane tanks filled. I brought a DVD player for him to stay busy so I was a little prepared,” she said.

Some people said they waited two hours to fill up.

“Absolutely crazy. The line is wrapped around the entire inside of the store,” said Orlando resident William Shanley. “I’ve been here just for propane for about an hour.”

Hughes Tachon wanted to get other supplies at Costco, but was out of luck.

“They’re out of water,” he said.

Costco workers said the store ran out of water, but did not say when another shipment is expected.

Most of the essentials were already gone.

“The water’s empty. (No) bread. The canned goods are starting to really go. I think everyone just really wants to be proactive,” said Granger.

Hope Depot stores in Altamonte and Lake Mary are out of generators. The stores anticipate an emergency shipment late Tuesday night or possibly overnight, but there is no exact time