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Natural disasters often cause death and destruction, but the looming threat of Hurricane Irma has brought out the best in some Central Florida residents.

Customers have gone store-to-store searching for plywood, drinking water, gas cans and generators, many leaving empty-handed.

Managers at the Lowe’s store at South Semoran Boulevard and Lake Margaret Drive near Orlando’s Conway neighborhood said they received a surprise shipment of 216 generators at about 7 a.m. Thursday. All were sold within two hours.

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Pam Brekke, who traveled almost 30 miles from her Sanford home to the Orlando store, was next in line to purchase a generator when she watched workers load the final unit onto a cart for the customer who was standing before her in line.

Brekke said she spent days staring at empty store shelves.

“My father’s on oxygen, and I’m worried about this storm,” she said while wiping tears from her eyes.

Customer Ramon Santiago randomly approached Brekke and gave her the generator he was going to buy without knowing why she was in tears.

“She need the generator,” said Santiago, whose first language isn’t English. “It’s OK. No worry for them.”

The two embraced and Santiago continued his shopping.

“I’m very overwhelmed by that man,” a tearful Brekke said. “That gentleman was a great gentleman right there. God will bless that man.”

Brekke said it’s encouraging to see people help one another during such a stressful time.

Store managers said they’re unsure if they’ll receive another shipment of generators since each store in the state needs more.

WFTV |