Last week's ice storm heated up the profit margin for some local businesses.
Supermarkets and large stores experienced booming sales as thousands of electricity-deprived residents rushed retailers for supplies.
"We had to make an emergency order to our warehouse for some stuff, like kerosene heaters, batteries and fire logs," said Chris King, co-manger of the Evans Wal-Mart. "There was a mad dash for it."
Although he had no estimates on how much the store made during the power outages, King said the Wal-Mart registered above-average sales for propane fuel, camping fuel, oil lamp fuel, flashlights, weather radios and batteries. The store even ran out of heaters and certain battery types for a short period, King said.
Wal-Mart wasn't the only retail outlet that sold out of emergency-related items.
What little firewood Brown Feed and Seed had left was going fast Tuesday morning as residents without power steadily visited the Evans business seeking fuel for fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
"As we came in this morning, there was a line of people waiting to buy firewood," said Donnie Brown, owner of the store at 4275 Washington Road. "So many people are buying wood that we might have to start rationing it so everyone can get some."
Selling for $55 for a half a cord of wood, people came to Brown in trucks, mini-vans and cars, loading up on what was for many their only source of heat during the rampant power outages across the area.
With electric ovens on the blink, and microwaves resting uselessly on countertops, several homeowners turned to open restaurants to squelch hunger pangs.
"It was like a Friday around here," said Mike Fowler, manager of Fun Time Pizza, 5114 Wrightsboro Road, Grovetown. "We did around $2,000 in sales on Monday. Tuesday was more normal with a little more people calling than usual."
After the storm subsided and power was restored, the problem then became getting rid of fallen tree limbs, and local landscapers experienced a surge of new clients.
"I would say our work load quadrupled," said Gary Hewett, owner of Advanced Lawn Maintenance in Harlem. "The day after the ice storm, the number of calls we received increased maybe five times. The resulting work as increased four times."
The bulk of the work has been removing tree limbs off lawns and trees off houses. By Thursday, Hewett had serviced eight homes and was preparing to see many more. He said he has taken on extra workers during the week and typically charged $50 an hour for labor.
Hewett said he hasn't raised his prices, despite the increased demand. But he did say that most people were more concerned with getting the wooden eyesores off their lawn than with money.
"With this type storm damage, people aren't necessarily looking for the best price," Hewett said. "They want you to come. They want you to fix. Then they want you to leave. That's what we've been doing."
Property owners also had to figure out what to do with the debris because the county landfill won't accept yard trash.
That's where Sample and Son Inc. came in.
An inert landfill at 5944 Columbia Road in Grovetown, Sample and Son is primarily considered a construction and demolition landfill. But the company accepts lawn waste and saw lots of it last week.
"During a normal week we only have a handful of yard waste customers," said Tiffany Sample, the granddaughter of the landfill's owner and an office employee at the business. "Saturdays are usually our busy days with homeowners coming in for yard waste. Over the past three days (since Tuesday), it has been like five times the regular Saturday. It's been unreal."
Sample and Son charges $5 for an even truckload of waste and $12 per ton, with a $10 minimum, for waste being hauled in trailers or dump trucks.
Many were willing to pay the fees, judging by a nearly constant line of trucks waiting to get in to the landfill, Sample said.
"The past three days have been wildly busy," she said. "We haven't been able to sit down."
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