John Minutella rushed through the doors of Ace Hardware in Waverly on Friday evening, his shirt dampened with sweat and face flushed red.
"Please tell me you have batteries and flashlights," he pleaded to anyone who would listen. "Please tell me yes."
The response: blank stares. Then a salesman, Anthony Williams, spoke up, looking toward an empty shelf. "I can tell you where they used to be."
As people crowded stores across the Baltimore region looking for storm necessities in preparation for Hurricane Irene, the demand for batteries reached a fever pitch and seemed to outpace the clamoring for bread and bottled water. Store managers and...