Two Walmart locations in Louisiana were forced to call in police officers on Saturday after a glitch in the Electronic Benefit Transfer system removed spending limits and triggered a run on the stores' food shelves.
"I saw people drag out eight to ten grocery carts," Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd told local CBS affiliate KSLA. "It was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town."
The glitch, caused by a power outage during a routine maintenance test at Xerox, took many long hours to correct and affected millions of households across 17 states.
Around 7 PM, the Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield first noted that EBT cards were not displaying limits and called corporate for guidance.
A spokesman for the company acknowledged that the stores got the green light to allow customers to use their EBT cards despite the glitch — a decision which led many to load up on hundreds of dollars worth of food items, clearing out entire shelves by the time limits were restored two hours later.
Lynd said that at no point were people unruly, and officers were merely brought in to assist with crowd control.
Manfield's police chief Gary Hobbs also reported calm among shoppers, save for a few instances of "pushing and shoving."
However, a store employee told KSLA they were forced to stop selling food by 9 PM because there was nothing left to sell.
In Springhill, many overflowing shopping carts were left in the aisles after limits were restored, and employees spent nearly an entire day putting items back.
According to ABC News, Walmart will be held responsible for any amount spent over the limit by EBT card holders.
A Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services spokesman said the company chose not to adhere to the emergency policy which limits all sales during a system outage to no more than $50.
[video via KSLA]