Hurricane Irma: Where to Buy Water, Food & Gas Last Minute

Getty People wait in line to purchase plywood at The Home Depot as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

If you’re still preparing for Hurricane Irma, you really should be getting all of your supplies as soon as possible. Many stores, especially in areas near the coast and in Florida, are already sold out of water and basic foods like bread and canned goods.

But if you still haven’t gotten all your supplies yet, here are a few ideas that might help.

Tips for Getting Water & Other Supplies

Your best bet is to arrive early in the morning, since many stores may receive a fresh delivery of supplies first thing in the morning. Or call the store in advance and ask when their next truck delivery of the items you need is arriving, and get to the store before that time. Many people may be lined up for hours waiting for the next round of supplies to arrive, so if you find a store that has a delivery coming, you might just want to show up early.

When Hurricane Harvey was looming in Texas, many grocery store chains emphasized that just because they were out of supplies and water at one point in time, didn’t mean they would stay sold out, since they get deliveries every day as long as it’s possible. For example, Publix stores are getting shipments every day. However, in some places those new shipments are disappearing fast, so you’ll want to be in line when they arrive if at all possible.

Wherever you go, prepare yourself for long lines.

Here are some more ideas for where you can find water and supplies that other people may overlook:

  • Look in the baby food or baby section for water. Sometimes you can find water there.
  • Try gas stations and convenience stores, since grocery stores tend to get hit first.
  • Try more expensive grocery stores, like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. Or other unconventional places like Fastenal.
  • Try smaller stores like CVS and Walgreens, which some people won’t think to visit.
  • In Orlando, Ten10 Brewery has been filling up water for people. So has Thirsty Topher. So look for pubs and breweries in your area to see if they’re offering the same thing.
  • Try dollar stores. Many people forget that they have supplies too.
  • You can also fill food-safe buckets or jugs with tap water and use that.
  • Check out Twitter for local real-time updates on getting water. Some people are sharing on social media where they’ve found supplies.

You might also try shopping about 30 to 45 minutes outside of a town that’s in the direct line of the storm, if the weather permits.

If you don’t have sandbags, which are sold out in many areas, you can fill trash bags with topsoil, Coastal Hardware’s manager told ABC News.

Some people are even trying Amazon’s same-day delivery, if they can find available stock in their region. But remember: depending on the weather, anything you order online might not be able to be delivered on time. So try your local stores so you have your supplies on hand.

And you can always fill bathtubs with water and use that water for flushing toilets, so you don’t have to dip into your bottled water supply for that. (And don’t forget to get enough water and food for your pets!) You can even try buying personal water filtration devices like the LifeStraw, if they’re sold at your local Walmart or sports store.

Tips for Getting Gasoline

If you’re having trouble finding gas for your car, here are some tips.

Gas Buddy is a gasoline availability tracker that works from crowdsourcing reports from other users, and it’s very popular right now. If you visit a station and find that it has fuel or it doesn’t have fuel, mark that online or in the app. You can use Gas Buddy online to track fuel availability here. It has mobile apps here, but to access gas availability, you’ll need to go to the amenities tab, scroll over, and choose “has fuel.”

Gas Buddy is a great app, people are marking stations as “no fuel,” “has fuel,” “no power,” or “unknown.” This can give you real-time updates about gasoline status as you need it. Just remember: if you’re using the map, you won’t see the green/red/gray/black marks until you’ve zoomed in closer to the location where you’re looking. If you use the app, do everyone a favor and update it with the results you’ve found too.

However, take note: some people report the wrong information to Gas Buddy in order to keep too many people from showing up to a gas station at once. If you’re really low on gas, you might call the gas station that GasBuddy shows has availability first, to make sure the information is up-to-date.

If you’re in South Florida, this Reddit thread could be helpful to you also.

If You See Price Gouging

While you’re out looking for supplies, report any price gouging that you see. The price gouging hotline in Florida is 1-866-966-7226. According to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s website, price gouging means:

During a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. Examples of necessary commodities are food, ice, gas, and lumber.”

What You’ll Need for a Disaster Supply Kit

Here’s what the National Hurricane Center suggests for your basic disaster supply kit:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Then consider these additional supplies:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lense solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Let your fellow readers know in the comments below.