Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bringing It Back Wave of Returns Comes in Wake of Floyd

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bringing It Back Wave of Returns Comes in Wake of Floyd

Article excerpt

When the panic subsided and then the relief faded away, a new emotion washed over many people who prepared for the very worst of Hurricane Floyd: buyer's remorse.

"I think that Hurricane Floyd was perpetrated by Home Depot and Publix," Paul Elias said, only half in jest, as he returned a bundle of plywood, 2-by-4 beams, hardware, batteries and flashlights to a home supply store in West Palm Beach. "We all overdid it."

At the beginning of the week, Floyd was on the verge of becoming a Category 5 hurricane -- the most powerful kind there is -- and bearing down on Florida. More than a million people were evacuated, and thousands of people jammed into stores for stashes of food and emergency supplies such as plywood to cover windows.

But the storm took a turn to the right and largely spared Florida. Floyd never reached Category 5 status and eventually became a tropical storm as it raced up the East Coast.

Suddenly, people realized they had bought lots of things they didn't need.

As sunshine returned to the skies, giant cans of tuna returned to store shelves. Customer service counters -- particularly in South Florida, which was barely touched by Floyd -- had a steady flow of people returning everything from flashlights and electric generators to giant bags of animal crackers.

"I spent all my little money -- and there was no hurricane," bemoaned Theresa Stephenson of suburban West Palm Beach, who had stocked up on tons of cookies thinking her grandchildren would need to seek shelter at her house.

Residents of North Florida also flocked to the stores Monday and Tuesday, but retailers said they didn't notice a large volume of returns in Floyd's wake.

Steve Proctor, the owner of the Proctor Ace Hardware in Ponte Vedra Beach, noted that customers who bought items from his store received receipts stating that all sales were final. …

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