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Storm-weary New Yorkers stock up as Joaquin threatens coast

New York hardware stores are already seeing a pre-storm jump in sales as many residents prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Joaquin's arrival on the East Coast this weekend.

Currently the storm is parked over the Bahamas and the threat to the East Coast has diminished, but memories of 2012's Superstorm Sandy, which was the cause of 53 deaths and $32 billion in damage in New York state alone, are fresh. Many residents are stocking up on supplies — just in case.

"The closer we get to a storm, the wackier it gets in here," said Barbara Israel, a sales associate at Nuthouse Hardware in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan. "It was like a zoo during Sandy, I would never want to relive that."

Fred Covell, Nuthouse Hardware in New York.
Daniel Paez | CNBC
Fred Covell, Nuthouse Hardware in New York.

An apartment-building superintendent stopped by Nuthouse Hardware on Thursday to stock up on sandbags to prevent water damage at his building.

The store's also seen an uptick in sales of plastic tarps and duct tape, which can be used as a quick remedy for roof damage, Israel said.

Raymond Kacerek, assistant store manager of the Home Depot in midtown Manhattan, has already seen an increase in foot traffic and a clear boost in sales of items like batteries, flashlights and generators. He explained that after Sandy, he made it a point to always have a large selection of these items on hand.

"We were caught off guard by Sandy, but that's not going to happen again," said Kacerek. "It's too early to say how this storm will play out, but we will be open to the public unless it puts our associates at risk."

Already, shares of Home Depot and other companies that sell generators, roofing material, lanterns and other storm supplies have seen their shares climb this week. These companies should be seeing an uptick in demand up and down the East Coast, as wary residents watch the forecast evolve.

Shares of Flowserve were up nearly 3 percent Friday. Owens Corning, which supplies building materials, gained 2.6 percent, while Home Depot and Lowe's were both up more than half a percent.

Eamon Cohen, Garber Hardware in New York.
Daniel Paez | CNBC
Eamon Cohen, Garber Hardware in New York.

For some, this time of uncertainty is spent constantly checking Joaquin's projected path, but others just see it as a bit of unwanted rain. Garber Hardware in the West Village has had a steady stream of people purchasing lanterns and radios within the last few days.

Eamon Cohen, a sales associate at Garber, advised customers to stay vigilant but not paranoid.

"While I do think everyone should always have enough supplies in their home to make it a few days without power, the whole idea of rushing out to buy carts full of stuff is just a media-driven reaction that really isn't necessary," Cohen said.

Indeed, storm-paranoia fatigue is very real for many New Yorkers.

"I didn't have power for over a week and there was even a storage robbery during the aftermath of Sandy," said Michael Smith, the owner of Adelaide, a furniture boutique next to Garber. "But I still haven't given Joaquin much thought … maybe I'm just jaded."

Even if Joaquin doesn't make landfall in the tri-state area, it is expected to deliver high winds and several inches of rain to the East Coast through the weekend, and that could cause flooding in some areas as well as damage to coastal areas.