Thousands converge on Harris Teeter grocery stores, often ONLY place open in Florence-ravaged Eastern NC towns

Amazing pics and clips out of eastern North Carolina include not just storm damage, but the hours long lines at a grocery store lifeline.

Harris Teeter was the place to be Saturday, and people were there by the hundreds, and then thousands. In storm-ravaged Wilmington, word spread by mouth and by social media that a single Harris Teeter location was open, the only grocery store in operation in the city of over 120,000 residents, and they came by the score to wait in line, get inside, and get the essentials: Mainly cigarettes, beer, and junk food.

Hey it is the South, y’all.

Several newspapers, local and otherwise, have reported on Harris Teeter’s early opens this weekend. This is from the Daily Mail:

‘It was a mad house out here,’ said Wilmington Police Officer Don Oakes. ‘I don’t know how everybody heard the place was open, but the parking lot was at a standstill. When we saw the numbers of people, we called for backup for crowd control.’

A line that was estimated to take three to four hours long stretched out of the store and around the building as Teeter managers let in a handful of people at a time. Nearly 15 cops made sure no one got out of control and hunted down impatient types jumping ahead in line.

Melissa Harris and her husband drove 30 minutes from Hampstead, one of the hardest hit areas, to grab some supplies.

‘We were in the car assessing the damages when someone on the radio said this Harris Teeter was open,’ Harris said. ‘So we came for chips, donuts, cereal, lunch meats and cupcakes. And my husband needs his cigarettes.’

The Daily Mail has a lot more on the individual stories, as well as some great photos.

Not too long after that store’s massive crowds, another Harris Teeter opened in the area. This is from the Wilmington local paper, Port City Daily.

At the Harris Teeter near the UNCW campus, located at 820 S. College Road, the parking lot was full, spilling over into the shuttered Dick’s Sporting goods lot next store, as well as onto the curb. A line to enter stretched around the building — some hopeful customers said they had been waiting for about an hour to get into the store; many said they’d heard the store was open from friends, or on social media.

A second Harris Teeter, in Oak Landing shopping center in Porters Neck is also open, according to Harris Teeter’s online re-opening page.

They spoke with the company about the openings.

According to Harris Teeter Spokesperson Danna Robinson, “Harris Teeter worked diligently prior to the storm putting plans into place to mobilize our resources and valued associates, so we could get back into our communities as quickly and as safely as possible. We recognize the importance of providing our neighbors access to food, supplies and medication during times of uncertainty following events like this.”

Robinson added, “We understand there are concerns regarding standing water on the roadways; community members should follow the direction of the state and local officials in that regard when planning to venture out into the community.”

On Twitter you can find people searching for Harris Teeters or reporting that they found an open one, and it’s not just Wilmington. Small towns pummeled by the hurricane are finding it to be the only open store, the only place for water or supplies.

The company has set up a page where you can check to find one in your area.

Good on you, Harris Teeter.

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