Berkshire residents take storm readiness seriously

Tuesday October 30, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- As the winds from Hurricane Sandy picked up outside, Debbie Drake was filling her shopping cart with "goodies for the grandkids" and other necessities while at the Walmart in Pittsfield on Monday.

Anticipating a storm that would be more powerful than last year's Tropical Storm Irene that fell on Halloween, the Pittsfield resident said she wanted to make sure she'd have plenty of "food and treats" stocked up for her grandchildren, including pancake mix, candy, and necessities like water and batteries.

"I had my maintenance man take out our air conditioners," Drake said. "We're just making sure we're prepared. I hope everybody stays safe and dry."

Drake's impulse to prepare for the impending storm was shared by many in Berkshire County, who headed to hardware stores, supermarkets, and -- yes -- liquor stores, through the weekend and into Monday to stock up on supplies.

Nasty weather usually means good business for stores in the area that offer necessary items during power outages and storms. By Monday afternoon, the Home Depot at Berkshire Crossings in Pittsfield was sold out of power generators.

"Besides generators, sump pumps, flashlights and batteries have really been selling well today," said Tony Pedolzky, the store's manager.

Pedolzky said the store will remain open during its normal 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours today, but added that he and the rest of the store's management would reassess whether that would change by the morning.

More uncertain is when stores will be able to re-stock items that sell out.

Pedolzky said there are 75 product delivery trucks stationed at the various Home Depot distribution centers throughout the country. The nearest distribution center that supplies the Pittsfield store is in Westfield, and Pedolzky said he and his team will have to wait and find out to see if the Berkshires becomes one of the areas hit hardest by the storm. The most critical regions will be supplied first, he added.

Like Home Depot, H. Greenberg & Son in North Adams was all out of power generators by Monday afternoon, while size D batteries, flashlights and rain gear like boots and tarps were selling well, according to Tony Esposito, the store's director of operations. Esposito said his store is prepared for post-storm needs, having stocked up on chain saws and tarps.

For those looking for groceries, the Berkshire Co-Op Market in Great Barrington was completely out of bottled water, and it was quickly running through its stock of canned goods Monday afternoon, said Matt Novik, the store's communications manager.

Novik said the market had twice the amount of business it usually does on Sunday, and added that last year's storm helped the store's staff prepare for Sandy.

"This year we made a point of ordering more of everything, just in case," Novik said.

Debbie Robitaille, the manager of Liquors Inc. on Dalton Avenue in Pittsfield, said business was brisk.

"People take this stuff seriously," Robitaille said, adding that her store was significantly busier on Monday than usual. While people came to her store to buy ice, snacks, and bottled water, Robitaille said people always buy alcohol during periods of inclement weather. Both beer and wine sold well on Monday.

"People know what matters to them during this kind of weather," she said. "And you know what else I like? It takes people's mind off of the elections. It's nice to hear about something else."


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