Preparations for Irma already underway in Charlotte

Preparations for Irma already underway in Charlotte
(Ben Williamson | WBTV)
(Ben Williamson | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As Hurricane Irma continues to approach the United States people up and down the East Coast are scrambling to prepare.

In Charlotte, thousands of people are trying to stock up on supplies like batteries, flashlights, and lanterns. But it is becoming a challenge to find those items.

"We have actually gotten everything out of the warehouse and got it out of back stock and put it on the shelves," said Wade Goode, with Blackhawk Hardware. "A majority of our sales have been batteries, lanterns, flashlights and coolers."

Major retailers like Wal-Mart, Lowe's, and Home Depot are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked.

Generators are also in high demand, as massive power outages are expected across the Carolinas.

"We sold our last two portables [generators] this morning, and we have a shipment coming in but we do not know when we will get more in," said Rusty Wise, President of Mr. Sparky by Wise Electric Control. "We have been slammed, non-stop, the phone has been ringing off the hook. We have ten technicians that are running ragged trying to get to all the calls."

Wise says he has technicians running around repairing generators but only has a couple left at his store. He says he is not sure when they will get another shipment in.

It was a similar story at major retailers. Three separate Lowe's stores were sold out of generators. Home Depot does not have generators, but say an emergency shipment is coming into the Wendover Road store late Thursday.

"Now, we are ten times more reliant on power than we were when Hugo came through," said Wise.

Wise says whether you have a stand-alone generator or a portable generator, you have to maintain them while the power is out. They require new fuel, oil, and air filters.

"If we are out for weeks then that will be a major issue. Generators need maintenance just like your car," said Wise.

Tree removal service companies have also been getting hundreds of calls from people that want to remove problem trees from their yards.

"The tree is pretty dead, so they wanted it removed before the storm came," said Isac Perez, with Hi Tree Service, as he worked at a home Thursday.

Perez and others spent the day removing trees and say the call volume has been five times what they normally see.

"There has been a high number of calls. Sometimes my boss has had to pass the job onto somebody else because we are so booked," said Perez.

Joe Meyer already had plans to get a huge tree removed from his yard in east Charlotte, but says when the storm developed it was the perfect time.

"I am feeling very fortunate. I mean, it was coincidental, but we are just feeling very lucky and fortunate right now," said Meyer.

Meanwhile, crews are fully staffed and ready to roll out when the storm hits.

"There are things that would take priority. If something is on a house or a car and blocking people in, we would take care of that first," said Donovan Swanepoel with Heartwood Tree Service. "We have been busy, and continue to be busy. More phone calls coming in every day."

Tree experts suggest removing cars from under trees and remain on the bottom floor of your house for more protection during the storm.

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