Guest Column: Muller-Pinehurst & Ice (or the lack thereof)

July 1, 1993

Things are calming down from the BIG WIND, and it is time to reflect on how problems were handled. It is obvious most people have no emergency plans in place to handle such problems. When the power went out, the

refrigators shut down. The solution was to either eat a lot of stuff quickly, or buy ice. I expected ice to be scarce the day after the storm, and it was, but ice was available with a little looking. But, on Sunday, nobody had ice! The only solution was to travel great distances to the Muller-Pinehurst ice plant.

Perhaps 50 or more M-P trucks were parked out back, with no drivers to deliver ice. Why didn’t M-P call in drivers and deliver ice, so the whole trip to M-P could be avoided? Why didn’t the grocery stores send over a truck to pick up ice, to serve their customers?

I arrived to find more than 50 people in line ahead of me (I counted). When I got up to the two poor, overworked cashiers, there were still 40 people behind me! Now, while I appreciate that M-P didn’t raise prices, buying two bags of ice involved the cashier writing up a ticket, adding up the prices on a calculator, figuring tax, and making change. There were five or six guys handing out ice, mostly standing around. Ninety-nine percent of the people standing in line for 15-20 minutes would have been happy to pay even

$3 per bag of ice, quick here is my money, give me the bags. Even with a pleasant “Thank you very much”, it would take 15 seconds tops to take in any size bill and hand out change and a coupon for a bag of ice. Have four people taking money, and less people standing around waiting for the next paid customers, and the line would have disappeared in no time.

It is all about planning, and obviously M-P had no plans in place to handle the demand, two days after the BIG WIND.

How many other stores, or people can you think of that had no emergency plans in place? Simple things like emergency bottled water, flashlights, candles, coolers, or even knowing not to open the refrigator door in a power outage. Temperatures inside a refrigator can rise five to ten degrees when you open the door for 10 seconds!

Thanks to Muller-Pinehurst for having ice. But, next time, get those trucks out delivering ice more quickly, and figure out a faster way to sell bags at the plant. And if you have a business, or are just a resident, plan now for the next disaster. We will have more such problems, sooner or later!

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