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    Florida Marathon Store Weathers the Storms

    Unit one of rare few to keep electricity throughout all three hurricanes.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- A Lakeland Marathon Food Center store has been fortunate enough to keep electricity throughout visits from hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne, reported the Ledger Online.

    "We've been open for all three storms," cashier Jean Branum said. Weary from working 11 hours during Hurricane Jeanne on Sunday, Branum talked quickly between customers Monday.

    It was pretty scary working during Jeanne, she said, but the winds came toward the rear of the store -- not the glass storefront. "I wasn't scared for the first two storms, but this one was a little stronger," she said.

    Customers braved the winds and rain to venture out in search of ice, crackers, beer and cigarettes. There were a few containers of milk left, and some bags of chips, but customers grabbed up a lot of those products as well.

    The store had at least five times the usual amount of business, Branum said. "It was crazy," she said. "All the ice, of course, is gone -- they were buying six bags at a time. On Sunday, they were taking their shoes off and wading up to the door. We had a lake out there because the water couldn't drain out fast enough."

    There were times business was almost too good, Branum added. "My son had to come help control the crowds," she said. He stood at the door to allow only a certain number of customers to come in at once.

    Business remained brisk Monday, as customers filed in to pay for gasoline and store items. While most stores in the area had run out of gas, Marathon had it available.

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