EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 12, 2011

Crush before the storm: 'You don't want to get caught' - STORY/VIDEO

Alexandra Troy had already crossed bottled water, batteries and food off her shopping list when she came to Market Basket in North Andover yesterday to buy firewood and bread.

"I really don't need to be here," said Troy, who admitted that her Andover home was well-stocked with supplies to get her family through today's snowstorm.

As the children of a mother who lived in the Netherlands during World War II, Troy said she and her siblings were taught growing up to always be prepared.

"My mother lived through a war," said Troy. "She had an entire extra room of stuff. It's kind of in us since we were kids."

Wintry weather is nothing new to New Englanders. So why is it, before the first flakes fall, we flock to grocery and hardware stores as if our lives depend on it?

"Even though we know it may not be the worst storm ever, it might be," said Doreen Arcus, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. "You don't want to get caught."

Arcus said it's a question of probability that runs through the minds of most people.

"It's also why we buckle our seat belts," said Arcus. "Most of the time, when you get in the car you don't need to worry about it. But the consequences for that one time are preventable.

"We can't do a whole lot about the weather. Having control is very empowering. We can't keep the storm from coming, but we can be prepared for when it hits," Arcus continued.

The National Weather Service yesterday forecast snowfall totals between 10 and 16 inches in the Merrimack Valley, with winds today between 20 and 25 mph and gusts approaching 40 mph.

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