• Closings and cancellations: Full list of schools and businesses closed. Know of one? Email us at email@example.com
• Getting ready: See how Omahans are preparing for the snow
• School makeup days: What happens if school gets canceled?
• Forecast and more coverage: Check current conditions
• Road conditions: Nebraska / Iowa
• Air travel: Omaha Airport flight information
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Shea Degan's kids shouldn't expect anything special just because a storm is coming.
“Hostess Twinkies are out of order right now. You'll get what you get and you'll like it,” he said.
The former Douglas County deputy sheriff is founder and CEO of 88 Tactical Group, a local company that offers civilian courses on subjects such as handgun knowledge, wilderness survival and doomsday scenarios. He has also been a “prepper” — or survivalist — for five years, even appearing on an episode of the Discovery Channel's “Doomsday Bunkers.”
When a storm hits, Degan said, his boys, ages 9 and 11, eat what dad eats.
But while the Degans planned to stick to the basics they have on-hand, others were stocking up. As a result, stores beefed up staffing and were making sure deliveries arrived on time, or even early.
Stores across Nebraska and western Iowa have seen a rush this week, with people stocking up on essentials before today's storm. Many shoppers have been parents anticipating snow days and hungry kids.
“It would rank right up there with the Super Bowl, which is the fourth-best food holiday,” said Mark Parker about the days leading up to a big snowstorm.
Parker is the store director at the Hy-Vee Supermarket at 90th Street and West Center Road, where staples like milk, orange juice, bread and yogurt were picked over more than usual.
And although most shoppers preparing for a storm don't tend to stock up on produce, some items, such as packaged lettuce and bananas, had taken a hit.
Lori Close, store manager at the Baker's Supermarket at Lakeside Hills Plaza, noticed more customers this week, too. Like Hy-Vee, her store arranged for more staff and rerouted some delivery trucks to make sure shipments arrived before the bad weather.
Among the first items thrown in carts at Baker's: bread, milk, cereal, chips and anything quick, easy and kid-friendly.
“Canned goods, fruit snacks for kids, easily accessible items ... stuff (parents) can get their hands on quick,” Close said.
Cold weather foods, like chili ingredients, seemed to top people's lists, too.
Kelly Gschwend drove to Omaha from Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Tuesday for a doctor's appointment and used the opportunity to stop at Hy-Vee and fill her cart.
“I've got a lot of kids' goodies in here,” she said, “and stuff you don't have to heat up.”
Stores in Lincoln also reported a steady stream of customers Wednesday.
Bill Knox recently moved from California to Seward, Neb. He said his family is new to winter weather and is “still learning the ropes.”
He was at the Super Saver in northwest Lincoln on Wednesday, stocking up on water, strawberries and bread.
“We live out in the country,” he said, “so we're going to get snowed in and run out of water.” The strawberries were for a treat — shortcake.
Todd Schumacher, director of Russ's Market at 17th and Washington Streets in Lincoln, said business had doubled this week.
But some of it, he said, was people doing their regular shopping early because of the storm forecast. Like most store managers, he expected today and Friday to be slow.
Mike Kennedy, an attorney and a member of the Millard school board, said his two sons had some shopping requests.
“Mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs ... you name it,” he said.
The family stocks up on essentials before every storm, Kennedy said.
“Everything kind of changed with the big snowstorm in '97,” he said, recalling the power being out for a week and the miserable feeling of being stuck indoors.
While it's smart to prepare, it's important to stay reasonable, said Dr. Michael Rice, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“People can really let their emotions get ahead of them,” he said. “People get hurt when they try to do these desperate, silly things, like driving to get food instead of just staying in.”
His advice: Do a logical thought-check before making any rash decisions to buy items in bulk or travel in bad weather.
It might go something like this: Ask yourself, if I buy three gallons of milk, will I really drink it all before the snow gets plowed? And is the risk of driving through snow really worth having one more flashlight?
Degan, the survival training expert, echoed Rice's advice with his No. 1 rule: Stay home.
His advice for today's storm is to keep calm and stick to the basics: blankets, a radio, candles, bread, water, maybe a few instant meals and board games to keep occupied.
As for making a special grocery trip just for the kiddos — not exactly a top priority.
“Whatever my practice is, they're adopting (it) whether they like it or not,” he joked.
Haley Dover of the World-Herald's Lincoln Bureau contributed to this report.