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Supplies for storm survivors

Hardware store owner trucks generators Downstate after Capital District spared

— With an unprecedented storm hurtling towards the East Coast, Jon Phillips was getting ready by making sure his hardware stores across the Capital District were well stocked with supplies.

The Bethlehem resident began pulling inventory from the company warehouse days in advance of Tropical Storm Sandy’s landfall. With seven stores, Phillips Hardware had access to seven times the allotted amount of products from suppliers.

“We were getting trucks nonstop, and Monday night we got the last load,” he said. “Because there was such a high demand for supplies, some stores that placed orders late got locked out.”

Phillips said as soon as he realized the Sandy would mostly bypass the region and saw the devastation Downstate, he felt guilty for stocking up. So he loaded up a truck with generators and supplies and started making calls.

Many hardware stores by that time werewithout power. Phillips said no one was answering the phone until he reached a Do-It-Yourself store in Denville, N.J.

“The owner said the phone rang 400 times and this was the one call he picked up because he recognized the 518 number,” said Phillips.

Howie Levine answered the phone, and Phillips recognized the voice. Levine and Phillips knew each other from meeting at a trade show years ago. Phillips said he was glad to be able to work with someone he knew and Levine was happy for the help because he needed a generator himself to open his store.

Phillips packed a truck with 33 generators and extra supplies, and made the journey Downstate with his 74-year-old father, Abbott.

“We have drivers, but I didn’t know what they would be driving into and I wanted to make sure they were safe, so I drove the truck myself,” Phillips said

Before he left, Phillips made arrangements to visit a religious school that had lost power and needed five generators. About an hour outside of Albany, Phillips said most communities were without electricity.

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