Hurricane Matthew: Dispute erupts over generator as shoppers stock up

A steady stream of shoppers made there way to stores across Palm Beach County on Tuesday to stock up on supplies as Hurricane Matthew churned north toward Florida’s East Coast.

Customers stock up at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens.
Customers stock up at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens.

Rebecca Sheppard said she purchased the last two generators at the Lowe’s home improvement store on Okeechobee Boulevard in suburban West Palm Beach.

Sheppard, who owns Hotel Evernia in downtown West Palm Beach, said she had just alerted a store employee that she planned to buy the two remaining generators on the sales floor, when another shopper came along and put one of the generators in his cart.

“My family comes first,” Sheppard said the man scoffed when she told him she had already claimed the generators.

Sheppard said store employees found another generator in the back of the store and she was ultimately able to purchase two — one of which she plans to use at the downtown hotel.

Sheppard was also stocking up on other supplies. She bought 9 cases of water for her and her hotel guests and 4 large gas cans.

“I am concerned some won’t be prepared,” Sheppard said of her guests. “I am just trying to play it safe.”

The Lowe’s was sold out of generators by noon, but manager Bill Lanning said he expected another shipment before the end of the day. Although checkout lines were short, Lanning said he noticed a surge of shoppers just after the store opened at 6 a.m. and customers continued to make their way into the store during the lunch hour.

Meanwhile, at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens, shoppers were stocking up on water, bread and canned goods. Shelves were stocked and check-out lines moved quickly.

Palm Beach Gardens resident Kay Uzzle, who was at the store to get water and fresh fruit, said the grocery chain was one of several stops she planned to make Tuesday to prepare for the storm. Uzzle, whose 185 pound Great Dane suffers from severe anxiety, said she also planned to fill prescriptions, including one for her pet, and stock up on items for her mother.

“What is going to happen is going to happen,” Uzzle said. “Make sure you take care of your family and your pets.”

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