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Irma Breaking Intensity, Retail Sales Records

Miami Herald

Hurricane Irma’s record-breaking fury and uncertain track is sending an unprecedented number of Floridians to grocery stores and gas stations, according to the Florida Retail Federation.

Federation spokesman James Miller says shoppers are becoming aware of Irma’s 180 mile-per-hour punch before forecasters can predict landfall with any certainty.

The result, Miller says, is gasoline and bottled water shortages from Pensacola to Key West.

“We know that a Sam’s Club here in Tallahassee got huge shipments of water at 7 a.m. this morning, and from what we understand, they were gone shortly thereafter. So the shipments continue to come in. You’ve just got to be patient.”

Shortly before lunch on Wednesday, the bottled water aisle at a Tallahassee Publix was stripped bare.

Jason Sell, a 27-year-old IT security manager for a state agency, was disappointed but not surprised.

“Yeah, I sorted of expected that because there’s been a lot of chatter at work about where things are and where things are not, so I sort of expected that. But, I’ll keep looking.”

Miller says Florida retailers have disaster plans and supplies continue to roll into the state. He urges shoppers to be patient a nd check delivery schedules.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.