The subreddit for Seattle has been lit up with people freaking out over the forecasted four inches of snow that may fall this weekend. Of course the news stations jumped right on this and here is their pictorial of what the store shelves look like after an evening of people "preparing" for the storm (be sure to scroll through all of the photos in the gallery).
Now this is only going to last for probably a weekend or so, maybe three or four days at the most, but you would think people were stocking up for a multi-week event. As someone in the comments on one of the reddit threads pointed out, if this had been a major earthquake the entire city would have been screwed (Seattle has a lot of bridges/overpasses/underpasses which means that roads will be impassable, probably for weeks or months after and earthquake, so delivery trucks won't be getting in at all).
Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me that so many people are so ill prepared, but it should be a wake up call for everyone that in the event of a disaster, you may or may not receive any warning. On the one hand, these people had plenty of notice so were able to run to the store and stock up on food and water (along with a million of their closest neighbors), on the other hand, if a major earthquake would have hit and people couldn't get out, does this mean a whole bunch of people would starve to death within a week?
I, for one, am happy with our food preps and whether the notice goes out on the news that a snowstorm is coming or whether the event is more sudden like an earthquake, there would be no reason for us to run to the store at the last minute to stock up on anything. In fact, we could probably go several months without needing a grocery store as we have plenty of food stockpiled (which is rotated into our regular food each week) and we have the ability to cook nearly everything we need from scratch if necessary.
Obviously most people won't have a multi-month stockpile of food but people need to be prepared for at least feeding and watering themselves for a month. It can be expensive to suddenly hit up the grocery store and buy an additional month's worth of food and water for your entire family, but it is easy enough to add additional food for your stockpile to your grocery cart each week. An extra $10 a week when you go grocery shopping could easily purchase 10 meals (box of oatmeal, cans of soup, cans of chili, can of tuna, etc) or you can buy a couple large items from Costco (25lb bag of flour, 10lb bag of pinto beans, 50lb bag of rice) that could feed the family long-term in an emergency.
Start today to build up your stockpile of emergency food and water so when disaster strikes, you an watch the chaos on the news instead of being part of it.