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Anxious Chilliwack shoppers empty grocery store shelves

A rush on food supplies started Tuesday (Nov. 16) morning and escalated through the afternoon
Jennie Roberts (second from right) stands with (left to right) Shunga, Iain, Amber, Avery and Lawrence. With them are three rolls of toilet paper, the last in the house and one of the reasons Jennie has to head out in search of supplies. (submitted photo)

While many Chilliwackians flocked to gas pumps Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 16), many more poured into grocery stores to snap up supplies.

With Highway 1 closed to the west, locals fear food may run out, and panic buying saw customers emptying shelves.

Jennie Roberts, a mother to six children, told The Progress she was down to a half gallon of milk and three rolls of toilet paper, and planned to go shopping Tuesday night. Looking at posts on social media had her feeling anxious.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do. Honestly I don’t,” she said. “When you’ve got this many children, you can’t not have toilet paper or milk. I’m probably going to have to go to the more expensive stores. Hopefully there’s milk at the drug stores, or maybe I’ll have to go to a gas station because it sounds like there’s nothing at the big stores.

“Someone told me they went into Wal-Mart with one of those hand baskets and they couldn’t find anything to put in it. The shelves were bare.”

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Roberts never thought she’d find herself in this situation.

“Thank goodness I think I have a little bit of powdered milk,” she said. “It’s not the kids’ favourite stuff, but they might have to survive on that.”

People took to social media to express dismay at the panic shopping, which was leading to empty shelves and long lineups.

Several posters called for per-person limits on essential items like milk and eggs.

“Superstore is freaking crazy,” wrote Shannon Mihalicz-Osborn on Facebook. “Lots of things are almost out, but they do have people filling the shelves.”

“Save on Foods is lined up way into the back parking lot,” noted Cindy Snukuts. “It took a friend of mine over an hour waiting in line just to get into the store.”

“Just got back from Walmart,” said Taylor Malanchuk. “It’s a gong show, but for now, it’s the most stocked if anyone is looking for baby formula and stuff. I did see almost every person with multiple cases of water and toilet paper so it will be sold out by now. There is very little rice and stuff, and baking goods and meat are gone as well.”

Other Facebook posters who lived through the toilet paper run of 2020 pleaded for calm.

“People!! It’s NOT a Zombie apocalypse!!” said MaryAnn Olleck. “Shelves will be re-stocked in a few days. Take this opportunity to use those mystery cans you have stashed in the back of your cupboards.”


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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