The first thing Mike Braswell did when he got to work at 7 a.m. Monday at the Home Depot in Northeast Richland’s Village at Sandhill was put out a pallet of rock salt for sale.
Within an hour, all 80 bags were gone – and there were no more left to put out.
As a major ice storm bears down on the Midlands, consumers aren’t likely to find many of the storm-prep basics at local stores. Many sold out of rock salt – sometimes called ice melt – and heaters during a snow storm that hit the Columbia area less than two weeks ago.
They still were trying to restock their shelves when Mother Nature prepared a second wet icy blast for the area, which is supposed to start Tuesday.
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“Pretty much everything sold out” during the last storm, said Darrell Manus, manager of Three Fountains ACE Hardware in West Columbia. “With this one coming, people are trying to prep before (it hits).”
But they likely won’t be able to piece together a storm-prep kit now.
Manus’ store, for example, has plenty of kerosene heater wicks, but no kerosene heaters; plenty of propane, but no propane heaters. As of Monday before lunch, customers still could find firewood and starter logs, as well as pipe insulation, but not much else.
The biggest missing ingredient seems to be rock salt, which melts ice and makes walkways and driveways easier to navigate.
“Sixty-five percent of the country is covered in snow right now,” said Andrew Fleming, assistant manager at Cayce ACE Hardware. “It’s almost impossible to find.”
His store sold out of rock salt two weeks ago, and the warehouse that supplies his store has been out of it since then.
Cayce ACE is supposed to get another truck of goods Tuesday morning. There won’t be any rock salt on it, but there should be some propane heaters, Fleming said. And the store has managed to re-stock the small propane bottles uses with the heaters – something it ran out of during the storm two weeks ago.
But most supplies aren’t expected to last long.
“A lot of people are coming in,” Fleming said Monday. “People want stuff … where if the electricity goes out, they can stay warm.”