By Lara Bricker
December 12, 2008 2:15 PM
STRATHAM — Shoppers maneuvered grocery carts through dark aisles inside Marketbasket Friday morning as they rushed out to get bottled water, candles and canned goods.
Instant coffee was sold out before 11 a.m. and store officials were also bringing in more bagged ice.
"It is kind of surreal," said Eileen Bichoff, of Stratham, of the scene inside the darkened store. Bichoff loaded up on bottled water and said she was not expecting the storm to be as severe as it became.
The Stratham store opened for business as usual Friday, but store officials had no idea how long they would remain open, according to Assistant Store Manager Dean Clevesy. The store was operating on a natural gas generator, which powered the doors, cash registers and minimal safety lights. Shaw’s Supermarket in Stratham and Stop and Shop were also open Friday morning.
All meats, dairy products and frozen foods were cordoned off and no available for purchase. Some perishable food was taken to a giant refrigerator at the rear of the store. Customers were able to buy gallons of milk, but most came out for bottled water, as they had no water without electrical power.
Clevesy arrived at the store at 3 a.m. Friday after receiving a call at his Exeter home about the power outage. He said his drive to the store in the wee hours of the morning was "very scary" with branches falling from the weight of ice all over the place. "It was kind of eerie coming down Front Street (in Exeter), you could just see steam coming up out of the man hole covers," Clevesy said.
Jean Bragel and her husband drove all the way from Raymond to the Stratham store after finding no stores in Raymond open.
"It’s a mess," Bragel said of the driving conditions.
Tom Muse, of East Kingston, was scheduled to work as a bagger Friday morning at 8 a.m. but it took him two hours to get to Stratham from his home due to the number of roads closed and trees down. "The cops are out there sawing off trees," Muse said.
Muse was not expecting the scene he found inside the Stratham store when he arrived. "Everyone that’s been in here’s been in a frenzy," Muse said. "They’re buying water and canned goods."