Where can I get water before Hurricane Dorian hits Florida?

It’s scary simple: Prepping a go bag with supplies in case of a hurricane

FEMA public service announcement for emergency preparation.
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FEMA public service announcement for emergency preparation.

The display stack of bottled water was high as a stock clerk when Tropical Storm Dorian was forecast to hit somewhere in Florida as a hurricane sometime by Monday.

By noon Wednesday, that five-foot water stack at a Doral Publix on Northwest 41st Street was shrinking, just peering over the display case.

A stack of Zephyrhills water at the Publix in Doral near the customer service department at the store’s front was nearly depleted after being “people tall” earlier in the morning on Aug. 28, 2019, as word of growing Hurricane Dorian sent Floridians to stores to stock up on supplies. Publix said they have no shortage of water and will be replenishing supplies through the state. Howard Cohen hcohen@miamiherald.com

A customer service representative was so busy with people coming in and out of the West Miami-Dade store she hadn’t even noticed the tower was getting smaller. But she ensured that deliveries of must-have hurricane supplies, especially water, would be plentiful and replenished with daily deliveries.

Though the water shelves elsewhere in the store also suggested water was a more popular item Wednesday than, say, ice cream, there was water to be had.

‘No water shortage’

“There’s no water shortage. We have continuous water deliveries throughout the state to all of our stores,” said Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss. “We have deliveries replenishing shelves around the clock.”

Still, with Dorian getting stronger, and with warm water in the Caribbean to fuel it on its path toward Florida, people across the state are encountering empty shelves.

Action News Jacksonville reported Wednesday that some stores in Northeast Florida, which is on the forecast track, are running out of water or low, such as Walmart and Costco. The station posted a Reddit thread to have users alert residents on which stores have water, which ones are out, and which ones are rationing the number of bottles you can buy.

Fox Orlando tweeted an image of a Costco that has limited customers to four cases of water. A sign on the shelf warns customers that the store had to take this tack because of a limited supply of water as east coast residents stock up to prepare for Dorian.

A Kendall Costco in the London Square shopping plaza on Southwest 120th Street is stocked with water and has no limit on the number of cases members can buy, a store rep said Wednesday afternoon — echoing what seemed to be the case at its stores in South Florida, which is in the cone but east of the central track.

(Note, this far out you shouldn’t rely too much on that central line. A storm can land anywhere within the cone or change a good deal three to four days out.

East and central Florida coast

Florida residents on the east and central coast have taken to Twitter and other social media sites to say they are having trouble finding water at various stores.

FEMA and other experts suggest having at least a gallon of water per person for three days for drinking and sanitation purposes (you can use water to flush the toilet).

You don’t necessarily have to run to supermarkets and wholesalers to buy bottled water either. Use your tap water to fill empty, clean water bottles or other containers you may already have around the house.

Publix preparation strategy

Nevertheless, we know you’re going to make a store run anyway. So does Publix. Krauss, the supermarket chain’s southeast spokeswoman, sent the Miami Herald the grocery chain’s policy statement Wednesday afternoon:

“Preparation starts for Publix long before hurricane season. We stock up on supplies in our warehouses — primarily water — so that we are ready when storms like Dorian approach. Now that we know we have a storm headed our way, we closely track the projected path to make sure that we’re sending supplies to the most critical areas of need in our communities,” she said.

“In recent years, we’ve made a significant investment in making sure that a majority of our stores have generators and for those stores that don’t, a fleet of portable generators can be sent out to those locations. These generators help get our stores back up and running quickly to make sure customers can get much needed supplies, and also ensure that our distribution centers are able to get supplies out to our stores as quickly as possible.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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