Hurricane Irene hasn't hit the East Coast yet, but people already are crowding hardware stores, grocers and big-box retailers like Wal-Mart to pick up $599 generators, bottled water, batteries and flashlights in preparation for the hurricane, which is expected to make landfall by Saturday. Demand for hurricane-related supplies is giving some retailers a boost that's expected to continue as people deal with the cleanup in its aftermath. At Ace Hardware in Elizabeth City, N.C., near where the hurricane is expected to land, business on tripled. Lines at Home Depot in Kitty Hawk, N.C., are unusually long. And at an Ace Hardware in Nags Head, N.C., the store sold out of portable generators.
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