CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Area hotels filled up quickly and people filed into stores that remained open Tuesday to grab winter-weather supplies, food and fill up on gasoline in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
A steady stream of cars pulled into the Kroger parking lot at Ashton Place on Tuesday afternoon -- and left after glancing at a "no power" sign taped to the door.
The store's power went off at 8 a.m. Employees said they had already turned away more than 100 customers by about 2 p.m.
Charlie Songer, 54, of Cross Lanes, was waiting in the Kroger parking lot to meet his mother and sister. Even though he didn't have power, he had a kerosene heater and was going to bring his mom, who lives in South Hills and had lost power, to his house so she could stay warm.
Other people who didn't have power checked into hotels. Employees at the Fairfield Inn and the Hampton Inn in Charleston said rooms had sold out around 11 a.m. Tuesday. At 4 p.m., the Town Center Marriott only had a few rooms left, an employee said.
In Winfield, the Holiday Inn didn't have any vacancies Tuesday afternoon.
"Everyone called first thing in the morning and we filled up," said employee Tanner Taylor. "It was the same situation when we had the extended power outage a few months ago."
An employee with the Quality Inn on Harper Road in Beckley said at 4 p.m. that the hotel had around 10 rooms still open, but believed most other hotels in the area were full and would be sending people their way.
"I hope the [forecasters] just apologize and say 'Hey, we were wrong.' They were saying we'd maybe get an inch on the ground in the Kanawha Valley," Songer said. "Boy, were they wrong."
Songer said he didn't have much meat in the freezer that could spoil during the power outage since most of his stockpile had been ruined after the massive windstorm over the summer.
"At least I won't lose a lot this time," he said.
Darrell Murray, 60, of Charleston, said he had a lot of food at his house "but no way to cook it." His power had been off since early Tuesday morning.
Murray was leaving the Charleston Town Center Mall and heading down the street to vote early.
"I'm a teacher, so I'm not working. I decided to go ahead and get my tires changed and then I stopped at the mall for lunch and thought, 'Hey, I'm right here, I might as well vote early as well,'" he said.
In Kanawha County, about 500 people had decided to vote early despite the weather, according to an employee at the voter's registration office. Last week, though, around 1,400 were coming in per day to cast their ballots, she said.
Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood said last week about 650 voters were voting early per day. Around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, only about 150 had come to the courthouse, he said.
"The power has flickered here a couple times," Wood said. "But we've printed out all our books to look [voters' registration information] up by hand, so if the power goes out we'll still be able to process voters."
Workers at Lowe's in Kanawha City said that there was a steady stream of customers entering the store all day, looking mostly for normal winter supplies.
Store manager Christy Gragg said that customers were also buying supplemental heating and cooking items like kerosene lamps and grills. Shipments of merchandise have been on schedule and the store is well stocked, she said.
"It's been a normal, steady stream of customers looking for general winter preparedness items," she said.