Big-box building material retailers may have the advantage of corporate distaster support, but executing bad-weather inventory strategy across hundreds of locations requires advanced planning. The Wall Street Journalchecked in with Home Depot and Lowes to see how they're meeting post-storm demand in East Coast markets hit by this week's storm and in those awaiting the remnants of Hurricane Sandy.

"We saw this coming, we started early, and we took some calculated risks," Terry Johnson, Lowe's senior vice president of Northeast operations, told The Journal. Lowes and Home Depot report boosting inventories of products such as tarps, flashlights, water, and cleaning supplies in the days leading up to the storm. "Once we've identified the need, we;l lhave this product put on a truck, if there's enough to fill it, we'll release it," Johnson said. "It's really important to be efficient, but it's more important to get the product where it's needed."