By now, most of you have walked into Hannaford's this past week to be greeted by glaringly empty display cases and shelves. No strawberries, no tomatoes, no mushrooms, no onions, no salad greens, no peppers, no bananas, etc.

The meat and fish cases are looking like some grocery store in a third world country — or the old Soviet Union. The poor employees are deluged with questions: "What's going on?" The employees are patient, explain with smiles and maintain a "calm-cool" while doing everything possible to alleviate the situation.

I'm writing this Sunday. By now, most of you most likely have heard that there was a fire at the Hannaford Warehouse in Portland. Fortunately, after the smoke and dust had settled, it was determined that dairy and non-perishable groceries were not damaged and are still being trucked in daily, but all fresh produce — fruits and vegetables — had to be condemned, and the meat section was destroyed. They now have to shuttle goods to Maine from their New York state distribution center. The truckers are putting in the miles.

Normally, 200 trucks a day, on average, pull into the Maine warehouse, bringing goods from across the country. These trucks pull up to the docks and unload their freight. One might be all strawberries from California, another all lettuces, etc. These get repacked to fulfill orders from stores across the state, then get loaded into trucks to head out — all in the same day. "Warehouses" no longer are stocked with weeks' worth of goods. Everything comes in one door and goes out the other. So, in any circumstance where the trucks stop rolling, the shelves in your local store empty out quick.

There's an old saying: "If you bought it, a truck brought it." Just think, if there were any one of several unanticipated disasters that hit suddenly — an earthquake, hurricane, EMP attack, another "Carrington Event" (a huge solar flare), etc., and all trucks stopped rolling, could you take care of yourself and your family for at least a couple of weeks? What about longer?

When I was kid on the farm, back in the '30s and '40s, we —  and most everyone then — could get along pretty well for a year or more. Depending on the time of year, we had cellars and barrels and canning jars full of food, vegetable gardens, fruit trees and berry bushes, eggs and meat in the coop, milk and meat in the barn, deer in the woods, fish in the waters. We didn't need electricity to pump water into the house, we all had wood stoves for heating and cooking. We were a much more self-sufficient people back then. If an emergency hit, we might miss a few things, like good ole black-strap molasses to go with Saturday night's beans and biscuits, but they aren't necessities.

The warehouse fire was a tiny hiccup that echoes throughout the state but everything will return to normal soon. But it's a wake-up call. It's a reminder that everything we depend on, without much worry, could come to a screeching halt at any moment. Take another "Carrington Event," for example.

The Carrington Event struck in 1859. After a few months of high solar flare activity on the sun, a giant solar storm erupted and sent its plasma cloud straight at earth, knocking all things electric for a loop. Fortunately, in 1859, that only meant the telegraph lines — and it gave a good zap to a lot of telegraph operators.

If, for any reason there's a massive loss of power today, there's hardly anything that won't stop working: vehicles, phones — any and all things requiring electrics/electronics. And right now, the sun is on a rampage of solar activity. Just a week or so ago, a flare hit over the Indian Ocean, causing a radio blackout. (Fortunately, most of that area is only ocean.) But if one hit New England, it could cause a lot more disruption, and for longer, than a warehouse fire.

We never know when some unexpected calamity may strike. It may be caused by man or nature or loss of income due to illness or job loss, things beyond our control. It's a good idea to always have the essentials in our cupboards. We never know when we're going to wake up one morning to empty shelves. In the meantime, remember, without the truckers, we'd all be in a world of hurt.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.