SAFE Shelter struggling to find toilet paper, hand sanitizer amid outbreak

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- People across the Coastal Empire are having trouble finding basic items at their local grocery stores.

Coronavirus concerns are growing and stores continue to scramble to meet the demand for basic items. Experts are telling people not to hoard items because it is causing these supply shortages we’re seeing.

Local nonprofits and shelters are asking people to think about the consequences before they panic buy.

“I’m feeling a sense of panic but I’m also trying to be realistic,” said Cheryl Branch, Executive Director of SAFE Shelter.

Branch runs the largest domestic violence shelter in Georgia. She said people flooding stores and hoarding household items amid the outbreak aren’t thinking about the big picture.

“We’ve got 52 people in the shelter right now, we can’t find toilet paper or paper towels,” said Branch. “I had to order hand sanitizer from a medical supply company and I’m hoping it’s legitimate and I’m hoping it’ll get here this week.”

Branch understands the push for preparedness, but like President Donald Trump, she urges consumers to be considerate.

“You don’t have to buy so much, take it easy, just relax,” said Trump.

To combat the demand big box stores are putting a limit on popular items. Publix and Walmart announced over the weekend that they would not close early to give employees more time to sanitize and restock.

“Stores may have different limits in place to help serve a greater number of customers. We continue to make daily deliveries to stores; however, inventory levels may vary depending on delivery times and customer shopping habits,” Publix said in a statement.

Kroger tells News 3 they won’t be closing early, but they are trying to increase staff.

“We are actively hiring to help keep our stores stocked with fresh, affordable food and essentials – and urge those in industries hard hit by COVID-19…to apply,” they said in a statement

Branch said employees might have to get creative if things get worse.

“Once we are out of the Clorox wipes I guess we will just have to mix up a bleach-water solution,” she said. “We’ll get it done it’s just going to be a little more difficult.”

It is unclear why consumers are stockpiling toilet paper and disinfectant wipes against expert advice, but branch believes the panic is contagious

“It’s pack mentality to me and I think you know you need to look beyond your own front door and see what your community needs that’s what you are a part of,” said Branch.

Branch said community partners are helping with supplies but she’s worried about the near future. Right now, the shelter needs diapers, wipes, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels. If you’d like to donate call 912-629-0026.

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