In a State of Hoarding

Many of the lessons I learned from Hurricane Irma in 2017 are applicable to the current pandemic.

Courtesy of Gulf News and given Credit: AP to

Hannah Shiflett, Staff Writer

I have grown up all over the US, one of my past homes being in Florida. Living in Florida meant frequently having to deal with hurricanes, so I have some experience dealing with panic that is worth sharing as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

One of the storms I experienced in Florida was Hurricane Irma, which, at the time, was the strongest hurricane the Atlantic had seen. There were approximately 1.3 million people in the state alone without power, my family included. Note that the size of the hurricane was 70,000 square miles — larger than the entire state of Florida.

During the time of preparation for the hurricane, which would later go straight through the town I was living in, there was panic coursing through everyone. Although hurricanes are a normal occurrence in Florida, due to its size, many Floridians had feared the coming hurricane. As a matter of fact, millions of Floridians were forced to evacuate, many of whom came to my town.

The moment it was announced on TV that people were to prepare for the hurricane, thousands of people rushed to the store to gather water, blankets, flashlights, generators, and non-perishable foods. Stores were left barren, and a regulation was put in place that gave families, depending on their size, one or more cases of water. Food supplies were sold out, generators were impossible to find, and gas became more valuable and hard to acquire. Many people were scamming others out of buying gas because generators needed it to operate. In fact, I remember waiting in long lines for gas, just as millions of Floridians did. Although, despite the extent of panic and shortage that was happening in Florida, I can’t help but sigh at the sight of empty toilet paper and hand sanitizer racks now across the US.

Photo by Hannah Shiflett

Walking into Giant Eagle, I see people running rampant, trying to find toilet paper and buying non-perishable foods. This extent of panic would be something I would have expected in a natural disaster, but not one where everyone is living in fear of a virus.

If there is anything that I have learned from going through stores that were made barren, it is to remain calm and only buy what is needed. People that are buying out all the toilet paper are starving others who are in need of it. Non-perishable foods are something that people should be kind about. Buying hand sanitizer by the gallons and looking to sell it for profit is something that hurts others, as people who do need it are left empty-handed.

To everyone who is panicking, buying whatever they can, and leaving others to fend for themselves, I say you should all be courteous towards others. Since now is a time for all of us to be serious, we should be acting in a calm manner instead of mass buying products that cause further panic.


My advice, as someone who has already lived through such a state of shortage and of hoarding, is the following:

  2. Be kind towards others. That means being conscious of the people around you.
  3. Please do not hoard products that other people may need.
  4. Remain calm.

If there is anything to look forward to during these times, it is to remain calm, wash your hands, and practice social distancing. I hope that the pandemic will come to an end.