Gas station lines form, grocery store shelves empty as Grand Strand braces for possible Irma impacts

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Grand Strand is still in the midst of uncertainty regarding Hurricane Irma’s path, yet some people aren’t waiting around.

Food and water is flying off the shelves, gas station lines are beginning to form and others are figuring out plans as the hurricane approaches.

“OK, today is the prep,” Steve Sellucci said as he helped his wife shop at the Neighborhood Walmart near The Market Common.

The Army veteran said he’s learned preparing earlier is best, and even offered advice for people new to hurricanes.

“Getting the right papers that we need to take out of here, knowing what the routes are going to be to get out of here, and when to get out of here – that’s really important,” Sellucci said.

Fellow Neighborhood Walmart shopper Megan Smith agreed.

“We’re trying to get everything kind of prepared and ready to roll,” she said.

Last year, Smith and her family left a Florida vacation to get their home ready for Hurricane Matthew.

“We just finished putting up the new fence Matthew destroyed,” Smith said.

Many shoppers had one thing in common: Irma preps. Carts full of non-perishable foods, paper towels, toilet paper and batteries passed by the WMBF News crew.

One man, Travis Kirby, said so far he plans to stay in his Carolina Forest home. He’s decided to try to help his neighbors before the bad weather arrives.

Kirby posted on the well-known “Residents of Carolina Forest, SC” Facebook neighborhood page an advertisement offering help for handicapped and elderly residents. The post became popular, leading to more volunteers offering their assistance before Hurricane Irma’s arrival.

“Saying that they’re available to help – even people that probably shouldn’t be helping – they’re going to go out and get in their vehicles and drive people wherever they need to go. It’s really been encouraging that I’ve moved to an area where people are really going to come together in the face of adversity,” Kirby said.

The post has also generated window boarding how-to’s and links to “hurricane prep” lists. Kirby said YouTube and Lowe’s also provides useful information.

“I learned a good idea is to keep an ax in your attic so you can get out if it floods,” he said.

Some people are not sticking around to find out. Several shoppers said they’re headed to New Jersey, Charlotte and Virginia. Others are waiting to see what happens.

“We’re hoping this drops down to a category 1 so we can stay. Besides that, we’re getting out of here,” a Costco shopper said.

“If it’s cat 2 and beyond, we’re out of here,” Sellucci said.

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