The kindness of strangers really stands out in times of adversity. There are few adversities greater than Hurricane Irma right now. The storm has already torn through the Caribbean and the Bahamas, and Florida officials. Before the storm hit, officials issued warnings to residents of the state.
A mandatory evacuation of over 5 million people was issued, but not everybody was able to leave. For those that cannot leave, stocking up on vital supplies is imperative at this time. Pam Brekke of Orlando is one of the residents who could not leave. Her father-in-law’s survival depended on a generator. He needs it to power his oxygen tank, while he is currently battling congestive heart failure. However, when she rushed to the store to get one, they’d all been taken already.
“I had heard on the news just before I left work that they had 150 generators still in their store, but they were going fast,” said Brekke, who traveled 30 miles to get to the store. “I got there just a couple of stepstoo late.”
“I was upset. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I was here during the 2004 hurricanes and I know what they’re like. During Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne, we were without power for seven days for each of those storms.”
Brekke’s panic was soon eased when another shopper, Ramon Santiago, witnessed the woman’s distress. Santiago approached her with an incredibly selfless offer. He had just purchased the last generator in the store and was about to pay for it when he saw that Brekke needed it more. So he gave it to her.
“At first, I said, ‘Oh, no sir. You need that for yourself,’” Brekke said. “I started walking away but he said, ‘Ma’am, this is yours. You take this generator.’ I told him that he was my angel.”
Nancy Alvarez caught their exchange on video anchor and posted it on Facebook. The clip has already been viewed over 18 million times, and messages of praise and thanks have been pouring in for Santiago.
Alvarez, a news reporter, said:
“I had just wrapped up my shift on the morning news, I was standing there with an arm full of batteries and it just played out right in front of me,” Alvarez said in an interview. “He just walked over and said, ‘I’ll give you my generator.’ We all just started crying. It was ridiculous.”
Santiago does not speak much English, also spoke with Alvarez. His attitude brings hope in the midst of so much despair and destruction.
“He really believes that God played a role in all of this,” Alvarez said, translating for Santiago. “He’s saying, ‘let’s take this moment that we’re all here for each other, helping each other out and extend it beyond the hurricane. This storm is going to be out of here and when it is, let’s remember how we feel right now.’”