Tampa, Florida -- Stores are more coordinated than ever in staying stocked with storm supplies ahead of Isaac.
Batteries came in Thursday night. A shipment of water is due Friday morning.
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It's no exaggeration to say the Lowe's in South Tampa is constantly receiving, rearranging, or stocking disaster supplies ahead of Isaac.
Other retailers are also in overdrive. Water was unloaded from a truck and onto the shelves of a St. Petersburg Publix starting at 4:30 a.m. Friday.
Lessons learned from previous storms -- including Florida's nightmare season of 2004 with Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne -- have been refined for nearly a decade, explained Matt White, who manages the South Tampa Lowe's.
Official Forecast: From the National Hurricane Center
More Weather Coverage: Tracking the tropics with 10 News
A central command center in North Carolina watches the inventory at all of the Lowe's stores in a hurricane or tropical storm danger zone.
Trucks are filled, dispatched, and re-routed from warehouses and suppliers based on stores' up-to-the-minute needs.
Plus, years of experience have shown what particular supplies anxious customers actually buy as a storm approaches, so those items are prioritized by the store's supply network.
Batteries, water, and generators tend to top that list, White said. Those are now the first items you see when you walk into his store.
See Also: Where can I get sandbags?
Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets also manages its supplies to keep shelves stocked. The manager of a St. Pete location told us he gets twice-daily briefings on the storm and how the grocery chain is responding.
The federal government is also improving. 10 News crews saw first-hand how the demand for help overwhelmed FEMA planners and field workers for several days after Hurricane Katrina, putting lives at risk.
Thursday, FEMA stocked 18-wheeler trucks with taxpayer-funded disaster supplies at a warehouse in Atlanta. On Friday, the agency planned to drive the trucks to a staging area in Jacksonville.
But, as the area that's anticipating Isaac's arrival shifts westward, those staged supplies may relocate as well, showing a trait often too rare in the the federal government's bureaucracy: flexibility.
What should be in your disaster kit?
Pick up our 10 News Hurricane Handbook at your local Walgreens in the Tampa Bay area for great checklists, evacuation zones, and more information.
Here are the absolute basic essentials to make sure you have on hand:
Supplies for 72 hours
- Water (1 gallon per day per person)
- Food (that doesn't need cooking and won't spoil)
- Medicines & special needs items
- Weather radio
- Flashlight & batteries
- Baby & kid supplies
- Pet supplies
For more ideas on what to stock up on and how to get ready, go to the State of Florida's Disaster Kit site and the "Be Prepared" section of FloridaDisaster.org.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News