Home Depot, Lowe’s and other retailers prepare for hurricane Irene

New York City -- Shoppers are crowding hardware stores, supermarkets and big-box retailers up and down the Northeast to pick up generators, bottled water, batteries and flashlights in preparation for Hurricane Irene. Experts say that demand for hurricane-related supplies is giving some retailers a boost that is likely to continue as people clean up in the storm’s wake.

The Home Depot has been busy delivering “pre-strike” items such as water, tarps and batteries to meet increasing demand along Irene’s expected path, said Russ Householder, emergency response captain for Home Depot, in a Bloomberg report. The chain is also adding extra goods to stores in New York and Rhode Island with emergency supplies to prepare for the weekend.

Lowe’s Cos. has responded to the impending storm in a similar fashion, sending out more than 200 truckloads of chainsaws and bottled water to fulfill shoppers’ needs, Bloomberg said. The company has been monitoring inventory levels and using past hurricanes to estimate demand.

Wal-Mart Stores is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that stores have all the items on a list for emergency preparedness kits, Mark Cooper, senior director of the company’s emergency management team, said in an Associated Press report. The list, which is on http://www.ready.gov, includes batteries and cleaning supplies. Wal-Mart's team also is monitoring stores along evacuation routes particularly closely.

The nation’s drugstore chains are also helping customers stock up. CVS announced Friday that it is making every effort to fill prescriptions prior to the weekend, move generators into targeted areas and stock stores with hurricane preparedness items, such as water, batteries, flashlights and other products, to help in an emergency.

Rite Aid stores in three states have increased supplies of bottled water, batteries, flashlights, canned foods, first aid supplies, disposable cameras and other items.

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