For Sgt. 1st Class Ayana Flournoy, her husband, 1st Sgt. Marc Flournoy Sr., and their children, Alana and Alandon, pulling up to an Express gas station at Fort Benning, Ga., to fill up the family vehicle is an experience so routine it’s hard to imagine life without it.
But when a leak sprang in the Colonial Pipeline, one of two major gas pipelines serving the southeastern United States, in September in Helena, Ala., the Flournoy family and millions of others came perilously close to losing access to the resource that fuels their lives.
“Without the fuel we get at the Express, the essentials that make up my family’s day to day would be impacted in an instant: traveling to and from work, doctors’ appointments for the kids, trips to see friends and family, even something as small as going to the movies as a family would be just beyond our reach,” Ayana Flournoy said.
As the impact of the leak spread, gas stations experienced fuel shortages and closed early on consecutive days. Demand shot up, and so did prices in states such as North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
Throughout the fuel crisis, the Exchange was there for us. As a Soldier, this tells me the Exchange is more than a retailer, but a partner that has military families’ backs—no matter what happens.
—Sgt. 1st Class Ayana Flournoy,
Luckily, the Exchange was prepared. Within days of receiving news of the leak, the Exchange fuel program, led by Director Troy Seymour, worked with partners at Hartland Fuels to buy 50,000 barrels of fuel and have the gas transported by barge from Yorktown, N.Y., to Wilmington, N.C. From there, fuel trucks ran between the barge and Expresses throughout the eastern United States for 30 straight days.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure we had product available for our customers no matter what,” Seymour said.
That sentiment was not lost on the Flournoy family.
“Throughout the fuel crisis, the Exchange was there for us,” Ayana Flournoy said. “As a Soldier, this tells me the Exchange is more than a retailer, but a partner that has military families’ backs—no matter what happens.”