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  …but it can, and it has (1)

In January of 2007, a severe ice storm struck a wide swath of North America, from the Rio Grande Valley all the way up into southeastern Canada. Anita Evangelista wrote in Backwoods Home magazine about her experiences at a Wal-Mart in Springfield, Missouri:

The lights flicker ominously. I spend some time looking at shopping carts—one woman has four gallons of drinking water, that’s all, but she’s very happy—she got the last jugs of water in the store. Another had three loaves of white bread, a box of hot fried chicken, a bucket of potato salad, three large bags of chips, a small bag of tangerines, a liter of sugar-free lemonade, and a box of donuts—she looked worried, uncertain what to do next. Her husband is pale and wide-eyed. I watch a man stride confidently up to the candles rack, and stare, open-mouthed, at the utterly empty shelves. A tired looking woman picks up and turns over a package of luncheon meat, then puts it back in the case—it had been opened. The rest of the bologna, lunch meats, and cheeses are gone.

By this point we were about 48 hours into the ice, and the only operating Wal-Mart in a town of 200,000 was completely out of candles, bottled water, toilet paper, bread, soup, luncheon meats, C- and D-cell batteries, dry ice, bagged ice, flashlights, ice melter, cat sand (which is often used along with ice melter for traction on ice), woolen socks, camp lights, camp stoves, Coleman fuel, and propane jugs, and didn’t expect any deliveries. Even the chips, beer, and ammunition aisles were sparse.