Local grocers save the day during winter storm

Randalls Steiner Ranch staffers worked above and beyond to serve the community during winter storm Uri. Submitted photo

By LESLEE BASSMAN, Four Points News

Although staffing had been “mostly voluntary” during last week’s storm, Sheree Kelley, store director for Randalls grocery in Steiner Ranch, called the support from her employees “amazing.” 

 “It’s been a pleasure to work with this group of people because they care and, wow, they’re here every day,” she said. 

The store was closed on Feb. 14, altering its hours the next day and through the week, Kelley said. The store limited the number of patrons it allowed in due to a smaller staff, she said. 

“We’ve had abbreviated hours so we could get people in because it’s been dangerous on the roads,” Kelley said of last week’s conditions. Staffers were allowed to get to work a little bit later because of the harsh road conditions.

Many employees live in the Four Points area but some reside in the northern sections of metropolitan Austin, she said. The store never lost power or water but did lose some of its refrigeration in the frozen food aisle on the first day of the storm, Kelley said. However, she said the back stock refrigeration remained intact and the store’s bakery powered up every day, with the same staffer cooking up bread and other goodies.

H-E-B was closed for a portion of the week but all of its stores were operating with normal hours on Feb. 23, the grocer’s website stated.

“The unprecedented weather event in Texas has caused disruption in the food supply chain,” H-E-B’s website provided. Additionally, that disruption was further complicated by power and water outages that also impacted its manufacturing, warehousing, store operations, as well as its employees and their families.

As of Feb. 24, the grocery giant stated that its stores are continuing to recover from last week’s events, possibly temporarily impacting its assortment of products.

“While we will improve product availability daily, it may take a few days for our stores to get back to full capacity in our frozen sections,” Randalls’ website stated.

Both H-E-B and Randalls had temporary limits on some products after reopening.

During H-E-B’s closures, Randalls absorbed some of its customers, adding to its capacity, Kelley said. Short on milk and eggs, she said the patrons were patient, making the situation “a lot easier than it potentially could have been.”

The store had to pivot on the fly, shifting from its usual hot foods and deli menu to cooking up what was available as no delivery trucks could get on the roads.

“There’s no textbook (for this situation),” Kelley said, adding that the best ideas for dealing with the storm operations came from her employees.

The sushi corner at Randalls Steiner Ranch remained in operation for the majority of last week. Courtesy Sheree Kelley