NBC 5 Responds

NBC 5 Responds: Winter Power Disaster Impacts Groceries and Supplies

Experts expect limits on what you can buy, but the supply chain will rebound

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Power outages, water issues, and snow and ice-covered roads have impacted grocery stores during this week’s weather and power disaster. NBC 5 crews noted limited supplies in stores that are able to open. So, what does that mean for the essentials moving forward?

“We know there's going to be supply chain problems, but we're not going to know how bad they are quite literally until it thaws,” said Michael Davis, an economist and SMU Cox School of Business professor.

“I guarantee there's people on the front lines of this right now thinking, what do we know?” added Davis. “What produce has been frozen and has to be thrown out. What stores have had their pipes leak all over something important? It’s going to be through the next week before we get a rough handle for what this supply chain has done.”

Agriculture industry impacted

This week, Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller warned Texas farmers and ranchers were also impacted by the energy and weather crisis. He asked the state to include agriculture as part of the critical infrastructure during controlled outages.

“The supply chain is interrupted. Consumers are going to pay more money because the supply and demand is just not going to be there,” said Miller.

“It comes at a most inopportune time when consumers can least afford it. They've been out of work, can't work, they've got the effects of COVID-19 lingering around their finances,” added Miller. “Now this. People are going to have unexpected expenses like busted pipes to fix and water heaters to replace.”

North Texas stores working to keep supplies on shelves

Stores that have been able to open this week saw customers willing to line up in freezing temperatures to get in.

Walmart said it’s deploying its emergency support teams and the merchandising, replenishment, supply chain and logistics teams are working to get supplies to stores as quickly as possible.

Kroger said it had to temporarily close 15 stores at this time. Its distribution center is without power which will impact replenishment. Severe weather and road conditions have also kept some employees off work – the Dallas division is operating with 30 to 40% of its people.

Davis said to expect a tough few weeks with limits on what you can buy, but the supply chain will bounce back much like it did after pandemic-fueled buying cleared store shelves last spring.

“There's a lot of adaptability and redundancy in our supply chains and we found that out in March and April. If you remember, we had panic and people were hoarding toilet paper and all kinds of ridiculous things. The supply chain recovered pretty quickly,” said Davis.

He said it’s important to keep that in mind, especially if you’re one of the fortunate North Texans who did not lose power and the food in your fridge.

“When you go to the grocery store, you don't buy two gallons of milk, you buy one gallon of milk and make sure that there's enough milk left on the shelves,” said Davis.

COVID-19 Vaccine Supplies

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the CDC along with FedEx and UPS are holding the COVID-19 vaccine for this week.

Around 35,000 doses have been shipped to Texas and are scheduled to arrive at eight provider locations on Wednesday.

The state is asking providers who are unable to store vaccines because of power outages to transfer vaccines somewhere else or administer the doses so they are not wasted.

The state said it is waiting to hear more about future shipping plans.

In the meantime, if your vaccine was postponed, you should expect the provider to reach out to you directly to reschedule.

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