The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the streets of Long Beach, NY. - 

Plywood and pumps are flying out the doors of hardware stores. Many retailers in hard-hit states are even completely bereft of batteries. The Home Depot store in Washington, DC is bustling. 

In the parking lot, Gregg Edwards is struggling to stuff a wet/dry vacuum cleaner into his trunk, and he really needs it. “The apartment building I live in had our drains back up and raw sewage come up into the ground floor,” he says.

The vacuum set him back $550. Tony Ward, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says the typical customer’s hardware tab after a storm is $400 to $800 -- quadruple what people normally spend. Ward says Hurricane Sandy caused more damage than most storms because it was so spread out. 

He says, “Outside of Katrina, this will be probably the second largest one that we’ve seen in a long time.” Ward says overall, hardware store sales will be two to three times higher than normal for this time of year.