It didn't take long for (NASDAQ:AMZN) to position itself as a hurricane play. Shortly after Alberto hit the Florida coast as a weakened tropical storm, the ubiquitous online retailer sent an email to customers in the affected area.

"As a valued customer who lives in the Southeast, you know severe weather preparations should be taken seriously," reads the Internet mailing. " can help you build a comprehensive emergency kit to prepare for and recover from emergencies with products in our Emergency Preparedness Store."

Offering everything from power generators to hand cranked radios, from flashlights to debris removal tools, Amazon is making the most of its dot-com stronghold, its hardware storefront, and a country scurrying to get ready after an early jolt in the hurricane season.

Related headlines over the past week were mostly about traditional chains ringing up the nervous public. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) was loading up its southeastern stores as the storm approached. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) were moving plenty of plywood shutters. E-tail doesn't get a whole lot of media loving. That may be because, in the past, panicked preparers didn't have the luxury to wait for deliveries and it just makes for better televised footage to see folks lining up in droves at the home-improvement superstore for batteries and duct tape.

That may change. Thanks to Amazon's Prime program, premium members can get free two-day shipping or pay for overnight service. With hurricanes often giving targeted residents days to get ready, Amazon is no doubt looking to position itself as an alternative to the bricks-and-mortar madness.

It may work. It got me to click through and stroll Amazon's virtual aisles -- and I'm a huge fan of Amazon, but I'm also the type to usually delete the company's promotional emails.

The irony isn't lost on me. A decade ago, Amazon was little more than a gutsy online bookstore. I wouldn't dream of stepping into a Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) today for reciprocating saws or portable generators. Yet, it doesn't seem odd to hit Amazon for those very same things now.

You've come a long way, Amazon. And if your Emergency Preparedness Store is any indication, it seems you're geared up to weather the storm as well.

Shares of were singled out to Stock Advisor subscribers, and Wal-Mart was recently chosen as an Inside Value recommendation.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as has been in business. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.