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Area residents busy with precautions before storm hits

  • Jennifer Barry of Florence lifts a five-gallon jug of water into her cart from the picked-over shelves of bottled water at the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jennifer Barry of Florence lifts a five-gallon jug of water into her cart from the picked-over shelves of bottled water at the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • A patron to Liquors 44 in Northampton gathers a basket of wine on Sunday before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    A patron to Liquors 44 in Northampton gathers a basket of wine on Sunday before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Patrons maneuver for parking spaces at Wal-Mart in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Patrons maneuver for parking spaces at Wal-Mart in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING<br/>

    Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • The shelves for charcoal and lighters at Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton were sparsely filled about 3 p.m. on Sunday in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The shelves for charcoal and lighters at Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton were sparsely filled about 3 p.m. on Sunday in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Barry of Florence lifts a five-gallon jug of water into her cart from the picked-over shelves of bottled water at the Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Liquors 44 supervisor Nick Milani works the cash register at the Northampton store on Sunday helping patrons "prepare" - the word his customers use - for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • A patron to Liquors 44 in Northampton gathers a basket of wine on Sunday before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Patrons maneuver for parking spaces at Wal-Mart in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Andrew Spring, head of the lawn and garden department at Foster Farrar Co. & True Value in Northampton talks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING<br/>
  • The shelves for charcoal and lighters at Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton were sparsely filled about 3 p.m. on Sunday in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Shoppers crowd the aisles of Stop & Shop Supermarket in Northampton on Sunday prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Simmons, a student at UMass, Amherst, was living in the Puffton Village apartments when that surprise snowstorm brought the Valley to a near-standstill and said she was without power for about five days, completing assignments by candlelight.

On Sunday, she and fellow student Lindsey Bowen, who now live in Sunderland, were stocking up at Wal-Mart on King Street, to ensure they have stocked cupboards, clean water, and battery-powered equipment to deliver information and entertainment, should there be an extended power failure.

And, they are far from alone.

Area grocery, hardware, and liquor stores have seen a dramatic increase in customer traffic and sales since Friday as Sandy, the so-called “Frankenstorm,” continues its approach up the Eastern Seaboard.

Mike Piziak, store manager at the Big Y Supermarket on King Street, said water, batteries, and flashlights are the most in-demand items for those who spent days in the dark following any of last year’s storms, or those who want to avoid that fate altogether.

As Sandy continues north, its expected that its strongest impact on the area will begin midday Monday and continue for 12 to 18 hours, according to a statement from the city of Northampton.

Piziak said, despite the crowds and the sometimes frustrating lack of emergency staples like bread, certain canned goods and batteries, people have been taking the storm’s advance in stride and have been mostly calm and cordial.

In stores in the area Sunday afternoon, items like canned vegetables, tuna fish, bottled water, toilet paper, batteries, lamp oil, propane, bread, cold cereal, canned meats, and other items seemed to fly off the shelves as fast as employees could stock them.

Piziak said the store will be continuously restocked, with orders going out every morning for delivery that evening, as impact from the storm allows.

Piziak said people can keep track of any changes to store hours and items in stock by following Big Y on Facebook and Twitter.

Andrew Spring, a department head at Foster Farrar True Value Hardware, said he hasn’t noticed panic among the influx of customers, but a sense of trying to be ready in case of severe weather.

Spring said beyond the items that normally come to mind when preparing for a severe storm, like batteries, candles, and flashlights, other items to consider are tarps or plastic sheeting, duct tape, and trash cans to collect rain water to keep toilets running in the event of power loss.

Spring said those who purchased generators to keep things running at home during extended power losses last year should make sure there is fresh fuel in them, especially if they haven’t been used since last fall.

Gas may also be something that is harder to come by if the power fails.

Jayne Smith, of Northampton, who was stocking up on supplies at Stop and Shop on Sunday, was without power for about 60 hours last year and had to travel to Holyoke to fill the tank of her car, because area stations had no power to run their pumps.

“This year, the tanks are pretty much full,” she said. “We’re just planning ahead, not worried.”

Jennifer Barry, of Florence, was stocking up on water in case of a power outage, despite being on the city’s water supply.

She, and her 85-year-old father who lives with her, need to stay hydrated, she said, and she’s concerned that if the city’s electrical grid goes down for a while, its water supply could be subject to contamination.

“I feel like I learned from last year,” she said.

Anticipating the crowds and the items they might be seeking, Wal-Mart put most of them at the front of the store, including lamps and oil, propane, activity books for children, portable stoves, canned goods, diapers, hand sanitizer, first-aid kits, pet food, mops, toilet paper and beef jerky.

While safety is the paramount concern, combatting potential boredom likely comes a close second.

Nick Milani, a supervisor at Liquors 44, said business has seen a steady increase as Sandy, which is about 900 miles across, according to Sunday evening estimates from the National Weather Service, continues its trek.

Milani said spikes in liquor, beer, and wine sales are pretty typical in advance of significant weather and the prospect of being housebound for a couple of days.

Between trying to stay ahead of the increased business, Milani said he’s managed to have his storm preparations at home in Southampton complete.

“I was born and raised in New England,” he said. “I’m used to dealing with it when it happens.”

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