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Last-minute shopping a challenge

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Shoppers were faced with long lines Wednesday at Don Quijote.

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Shoppers at Don Quijote stocked up on non-perishable food such as ramen, crackers and water.

Kailua residents Tiare and Lance Lando hit up nearly a dozen stores by noon Wednesday in search of emergency supplies such as propane and generators to keep their household safe as Hurricane Lane moved toward the islands.

The former Mrs. Hawaii filled up her Sam’s Club cart with bottled water, protein cookies and other non-perishable items that could sustain her family of six during what could be one of the most severe storms since 1992’s Hurricane Iniki.

“I got a lot of supplies from Walmart and Sam’s Club, but I don’t feel 100 percent prepared. I feel like I just have to ‘faith it’ because everywhere I’m going has mostly completely run out,” said Tiare Lando, whose emergency food and supplies cost her nearly $800. “We started early this morning before the sun came up. It was like an experience as no other because I ran into two types of people today. Those that were pretty agitated and a little borderline hostile and then you also met those that were just extremely compassionate and made sure they went out of their way to tell you to be safe. People were helping each other get things off the shelves. An experience like this kind of brings out those two extremes in humanity.”

She said she and her husband have been to “every single major supply store” on the island, but still couldn’t complete their emergency preparedness list.

“There’s no generators on the entire island. Propane is like very hard to find. I finally found two canisters at Walmart,” she said, adding that stores were also sold out of tarps, bungee cords and ropes to secure homes and belongings.

By Tuesday evening, residents had wiped out dozens of pallets of water from big box stores across the island, as well drug stores and supermarkets.

Don Quijote was one of the stores that had sold out of water, butane and flashlights, but were expecting an emergency shipment Wednesday night of additional pallets of water and butane.

“As the storm gets closer and closer there will be more people hitting the stores, sometimes just to pick up forgotten items or just additional supplies for their kits,” said Liza Garcia- Mitchell, advertising manager for Don Quijote. “Normally as it gets closer it does get a little bit more chaotic. The demand is extremely high, so for times like this we’ll send out our employees to pick up the water to bring into the stores to have on our sales floor for the customers. When it comes to a storm of this type, normally there’s a scramble to try to replenish the merchandise. Everyone needs water, we’re on an island.”

Makiki resident Abe Rodriguez, 46, went to four different stores before snagging two cases of water and a case of Gatorade at Sam’s Club, the last of the emergency supplies on his list.

He spent about $350 over the last few days stocking up on canned chicken, saimin, a car battery charger/compressor and emergency tire inflators.

“I was in Hurricane Iniki on Kauai so every time they have a hurricane I get super paranoid,” said the owner of Nueve Salon and Spa in Kakaako. “The last time when we were in a hurricane there’s nails and screws everywhere so everybody gets flat tires and your car is useless. It’s just like an evil circle.”

Following Iniki, Rodrigues said he was basically houseless, with no job or money after the storm literally blew the roof off his Kauai home.

“It took a month or three weeks to finally get a flight out,” he said. “There’s no shower, no hot water — all those things you take for granted you don’t have them so I don’t mind getting a little extra prepared. This is only the beginning of the season.”

Rodrigues was also scrambling to photograph his furniture and other belongings for insurance purposes in case they get damaged by the storm.

Lando added that the impending storm is a “wake-up call.”

“We need to learn how to be a more sustainable generation. This is really a wake-up call for our island,” she said. “We’re in the middle of the ocean, we really need to know how to be resourceful on our aina. How do we thrive like our kupuna did? They didn’t have what we have going through a natural disaster.”