Grocery shelves in midstate depleted due to weather

It was hard to find evidence in Macon of the ice that covered the ground Monday after temperatures lifted above freezing Tuesday and Wednesday.

But the storm was worse in Atlanta and this has caused problems for some Middle Georgia grocery stores as deliveries couldn’t be made to restock the shelves.

“Right now, we are trying to get our trucks out of Atlanta,” Ron Thrift, co-manager of the Kroger store on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard, said about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. “Ice was the problem, not the snow.”

Although the Atlanta truck parking lots were cleared Tuesday, “They couldn’t get drivers in to deliver,” Thrift said. “We are having major issues just trying to get the trucks in today.”

About 3 inches to 5 inches of snow and ice fell in the Atlanta area with temperatures remaining below freezing through Wednesday.

“I got a perishable truck in today, thank God,” he said. Perishables include produce, meat and dairy. “And I got bread today.”

The only thing Thrift was missing Wednesday was a delivery of dry groceries, which includes cereal and paper products, and he expects to get that by Thursday night.

While all the area Kroger stores get their deliveries from Atlanta, each store has different delivery schedules, Thrift said.

About 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Kroger on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins had noticeable gaps in its stock of lunch meat, yogurt and water, but several aisles were being restocked. A sign on the door apologized for the lack of goods and attributed the problem to the road conditions in Atlanta.

Since the weather and road conditions improved in the metro Atlanta area Wednesday, Publix trucks were able to get back on the road delivering groceries in the storm-ridden areas of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, according to an e-mail from Brenda Reid, media and community relations manager for the Atlanta division, which includes Middle Georgia. The company’s distribution center in Gwinnett County serves nearly 300 stores.

“We are using every available resource to deliver products to our stores so that we can serve our customers and our communities,” Reid said. “However, the amount of time it will take to deliver to all stores impacted will depend on road and traffic conditions. Our first priority is the safety of our associates and customers.”

The commissary at Robins Air Force Base also was apparently having some delivery problems.

Signs were posted in the egg/milk section that said: “Please excuse our available dairy selections due to distribution issues. The issue should be resolved next week,” according to an e-mail from a base employee.

Even though the bread and meat aisles were somewhat bare about 1 p.m. at Food Lion on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins, it wasn’t because of storm-related delivery issues, the manager said.

“We got low because of the mad rush prior to the storm,” store manager Teresa Shelton said. “But we got a truck (Tuesday) -- it comes from Florida.”

Stores are used to being bombarded prior to a winter storm, Thrift said.

“Everybody goes crazy and they buy us all out,” he said. “And usually within the next day we are OK. But this is taking us three days to get back to normal. So this is not normal.”

Telegraph writers Jennifer Burk and Angela Woolen contributed to this report. To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.