Atlanta distributors prepare for paralyzing winter storm

02/10/2014 03:49:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Atlanta State Farmers Market  Atlanta State Farmers Market logoAtlanta wholesalers are preparing for another winter storm forecast to strike the city Feb. 11.

A winter storm watch is forecasting freezing temperatures, rain, ice and up to 2 inches of snow could blanket the Southeast and paralyze other cities including Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark., according to the National Weather Service.

Andrew Scott, the Atlanta-based director of sales and marketing for Miami-based Coosemans Worldwide Inc., said schools are being closed for Feb. 11-12 and said people in the region appear better prepared for the possible storm than they were for a Jan. 28-30 storm that shut down the metropolitan area.

Andrew ScottScott“I just went to grocery store,” he said Feb. 10. “It was packed. You couldn’t find any shopping carts.”

Distributors on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park, Ga., are working to coordinate deliveries and help protect the safety of their workers.

Diana Earwood, general manager of the produce division for Atlanta-based Sutherland’s Foodservice Inc., and general manager of Destiny Organics LLC, said the distributor is assessing the storm and trying to determine how many orders it can send out before and after the storm.

She said the company e-mailed its customers informing them the distributor is studying the roadways and is doing what it can to work with its customers’ schedules.

Diana EarwoodEarwood“Everyone seems to always be cooperative during these situations,” Earwood said Feb. 10. “Even our major retailers are scrambling, trying to get products out. We’re doing late deliveries for them and second deliveries to warehouses. Some larger distributors are willing to take our orders and get through the city and let our drivers make their way back home.”

Market manager Paul Thompson said the market plans to remain open throughout the storm.

“We have our salt, our gravel, our Bobcats and our scrapes,” he said Feb. 10. “We will be here and do what it takes. We did not close last time and have no plans of closing at this point. We will be here to do all we can do to make sure produce comes in and gets back out as it needs to.”

Thompson said distributors moved little product during last storm but said business quickly returned to normal the next day, on Jan. 30.

Earwood said forecasters predict the storm to hit the evening of Feb. 11.

She warned that’s what weather authorities forecast last time, when the storm surprised people by striking earlier than expected.



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