Grand Island blizzard

Two people snow blowing on 11th Street seem to be at cross purposes Wednesday morning as residents dig out from a blizzard that left 18.3 inches of snow in Grand Island on Tuesday. High winds also created large drifts in some areas making travel on side streets nearly impossible for standard vehicles. 

GRAND ISLAND -- What customers considered as staples to make it through a blizzard evolved as Tuesday's storm raged on.

Grand Island grocery stores Super Saver, 1602 W. Second, and Hy-Vee, 115 Wilmar Ave., were both open before, during and after the blizzard that dropped 18.3 inches of snow and drifted it around with 45 mph winds.

"Before the storm, people were stocking up on everything — a lot formula, a lot of milk, a lot of bread and eggs, a lot of staples, a lot of soda," Super Saver Store Director Jim Goodman said. "During the storm, it was mostly beer and cigarettes."

Hy-Vee Manager of Store Operations Joe Lowe said pre-storm sales there centered on "produce, meat, water and snacks."

As the storm pelted Grand Island on Tuesday, Lowe said, snowplow crews were among the most common customers, and storm-day sales focused on prepared sandwiches, along with the typical store purchases.

On Wednesday, customers were back shopping for baby formula, baby food, dry cereal, milk and eggs at Super Saver. Traffic was picking up at both stores but wasn't yet back to normal volumes.

Even so, Goodman said Super Saver felt busy because it was operating on less than half staff as the storm made it difficult for employees to get to work. Goodman personally drove out to pick up employees who wanted to come in to work.

Lowe said numerous Hy-Vee employees with four-wheel-drive vehicles picked up their colleagues to staff the store during the storm.

Besides posing challenges for employees to get to work, the storm also made it challenging for store delivery trucks due to the closure of Interstate 80.

Goodman said Super Saver had missed some deliveries and had hoped to get more milk to stock.

"We missed a truck for two days," he said. "I've been in this business for 18 years, and I've never missed a truck. Sometimes they're late, but I've never missed a truck."

Super Saver's major wholesaler couldn't make it in from Kansas City until Wednesday. The driver bypassed the interstate and came into Grand Island on Highway 34, Goodman said.

It's all part of a commitment to serve the customer.

"Just in case of an emergency, we like to be here for our customers," Goodman said.

"We try to stay open as long as it's safe for employees and customers to get here," Lowe said. "People were appreciative that we were here and open for them."

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