CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Take two steps through the front door of the Lowe's on South Boulevard and shoppers are greeted with cases of water and Gatorade stockpiled three feet high.
The store, one of many across the Carolinas seeing customers racing in to stock up on supplies as Hurricane Irma's projected path looks more and more like it will hit this region.
"I think it's going to increase heavily over the next few days," says manager Delania Johnson. "We're going to be trying to get as many of the supplies that we're already out of back in stock as quickly as possible."
One of the things the store may not get back in stock in time: generators. Johnson says they have had people coming in from other states to buy generators here due to shortages in Florida and other areas.
"All along the coast, this is already becoming an issue," she says.
Meanwhile, AAA employees worry the impact of Irma will hit the Carolinas long before the storm turns its track here.
"When people are evacuating, what are they doing? They're filling up their tanks, and they're filling up in droves, and that has the potential to affect us in the Carolinas," says Tiffany Wright, public relations manager for AAA of the Carolinas.
Wright says the images and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are still fresh in many minds, and could be prompting people to plan ahead.
"I do think that folks are being more prepared, they're being more proactive," she says.
Wright says people here need to start preparing, but not panicking. She worries a rush to fill up will lead to shortages on waht has the possibility of being an already strained supply.
"[Irma] has the possibility to change on a dime and storms are unpredictable, we're seeing this storm change by the hour," Wright says.
"I think it's kind of a wait and see type of thing. We want folks to be prepared but we don't want them to panic because we don't know what this storm will do."
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