Through the week, temperatures that inched above freezing partially thawed some roadways, prompting residents to venture out to the grocery store or into town to seek some essential supplies.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, shoppers noticed what they considered to be an issue at the HEB grocery stores in Marble Falls, Burnet and Kingsland.
“I was amazed and ill-informed about the store hours. I was going to get some wipes and baby diapers (for a grandchild),” said Marble Falls resident Rick Cummings said. “I watched the line not move for almost five minutes.
“All those people were there before they opened for about an hour,” he added. “It was literally one of the longest lines I’ve seen at that place. It rivaled its opening.”
After initially closing at the height of the winter storm on Monday, for the rest of the week HEB officials opted to delay openings until noon to allow for improved road conditions or adequate staffing.
As a result, truck deliveries were either postponed or delayed and so replenishing shelves became challenging especially with the influx of customers, store workers confirmed.
Some shoppers, like Cummings, would opt to try to shop at another time, so when he did go back later that day, the line had subsided.
“There was nothing in there. All the meats were almost gone. A lot of the frozen food were pretty thin. No sodas. No bread. No alcohol. No toilet paper,” he said.
An HEB official on the scene stated that the lines formed to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures to limit the amount of the crowd inside the store.
Cummings emphasized how concerned he was about the lines – not for himself but those who may be vulnerable to the frigid conditions.
“That’s all it did was make people stand in line, their hands froze, their feet froze. I think they should get those people inside as fast as they can and not have them stand in the cold,” he said. “There isn’t nothing that HEB can do about it but try.”
As an electrician, he considered himself one of the “lucky ones,” because he navigated the storm with preventative measures and an abundance of survival supplies for his family.
“How can I be made at them (HEB). You know half their workforce was probably stranded,” Cumming said. “My advice for people is to prepare better next year.”