Hurricane Irma had not reached Florida yet on Thursday, but it already was creating a major crisis in the form of empty supermarket shelves and lines at gas pumps.
Shelves  at some Publix supermarkets in South Florida were empty on Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported. Twitter and The Herald’s website were filled with pictures of empty shelves. Bottled water had disappeared from many stores days before Irma’s anticipated Sunday arrival.
Even Walmart was out  of bottled water in College Park, Fla, Channel 6 in Orlando reported. Home Depot stores in the Orlando area were running out of flashlights, generators and water, too.
“[It was] a little bit of a pandemonium,” Costco shopper Diane Williams said. “Getting here was worse than being inside. It’s just that everybody is panicked, so they are preparing, which is wise, but it’s just, like, crazy.”
Water was not the only essential missing from shelves, as some markets in the Orlando area were out of bread, Channel 6 reported. Nor was it just big box stores. CVS drugstores in the Miami area were out of water. A clerk at CVS told The Herald that water disappeared within five minutes of stocking.
‘Everyone’s Out of Gas’
Experienced hurricane survivors in Florida recommend shopping at lesser retailers like office supply stores.
“Tip: People always forget that office supply stores like Staples are a great place to find water when Publix inevitably runs out,” Casey Ayers tweeted.
Fuel  also was in short supply, especially in the Florida Keys. Very few stations in the island chain off Florida’s south coast had fuel on Wednesday, The Keys Reporter noted. The fuel shortage was so bad that Gov. Rick Scott told residents to limit gasoline and diesel purchases.
“Everyone’s out of gas, so you might as well get some while you can,” Key Largo resident Bill Burkhart said.
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