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Hurricane Sandy: Shoppers Prefer Caution to Hardship

Memories of Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm are still strong for residents.

At grocery stores and shopping centers throughout Florham Park, East Hanover, Chatham and Madison, residents of the area came to stock up on goods to help them weather Hurricane Sandy.

Madelaine Quezada, a store manager at Target said water was the most common item people purchased on Friday. Chips, cereal, canned goods and pet food were also popular, along with batteries and flashlights.

"People look worried," Quezada said. "It's not a normal Friday. It's been busy since really early."

In Hurricane Irene, Mary Ann Callahan and her husband of Chatham Borough lost power for three days. They lost it again for two days during the snow storm.

"I'm not really panicked, I just figure, be smart," Callahan said.

Amanda Keller of Madison picked up water and food for her family of five at Costco and Target. At the moment she checked out at about 2 p.m., she said her husband was out looking for a generator for their home.

"During Hurricane Irene, we lost power for five days," Keller said. "We lost about $1,000 of food out of our freezer in the basement."

Jose Alexandre, the general manager at Madison's Stop & Shop, said the store had more shoppers before 3 p.m. than they typically get in a whole day on a normal Friday.

"When everybody gets home from work, typically that's when it really hits," Alexandre said. "If the storm really hits on Monday, Sunday will be like it was [before Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 snow storm.]"

Besides water, batteries and flashlights, Stop & Shop patrons asked for milk, bread and candles. "We have a big delivery coming in tonight," Alexandre said, "so people who don't find what they want today can come back Saturday.

During the October 2011 snow storm, Stop & Shop brought in an extra generator so they could stay open. "This was the only store in town with power. People came here to charge their cell phones, so we offer that service," Alexandre said.

Donald "Doc" Whipple of Chatham Borough said he was not in town for Hurricane Irene, but he and his wife lost power for four days during the October 2011 snow storm.

"It'll be good to have a couple of extra things in the house," Whipple said, but he said he was more worried about his daughter who just moved to Mendham home. "She has about 55 trees in her front yard,"

Callahan teaches at ECLC in Chatham Borough. As she loaded her car with groceries from Kings Super Market, she said, "The kids were already getting excited, talking about no school Monday," Callahan said.

Callahan's son and daughter-in-law are visiting from Costa Rica. They were scheduled to return Wednesday, but tried—unsuccessfully—to change to an earlier flight.

And if she does lose power again? "We have a gas stove, so I was able to make my coffee. That's all that matters," Callahan said.

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