Exchange capabilities and steadfast support have been on display in the past few months as our Nation has faced three devastating hurricanes, almost back to back to back.
Puerto Rico was hardest hit, suffering blows from Hurricanes Irma and Maria only weeks apart. Since then, the Puerto Rice Exchange team, working with HQ’s HR personnel, has focused on accounting for all 371 Fort Buchanan and Camp Santiago associates as they reopened facilities and took care of service members and their families. Roads were closed and communications lines were down, all communication channels, including social media were leveraged to contact our teammates on the island.
As of Oct. 3, all associates had been located and were confirmed safe.
While the Exchange family suffered no loss of life during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, many associates did suffer damage or loss of property.
Texas and Florida Exchanges affected by the hurricanes are now functioning at normal hours, but it will take time and hard work before all Puerto Rico Exchange facilities will be able to resume normal operations. As of Oct. 2, a few concessions, such as Starbucks, the barber shop and laundry services were open and the Express station was running on a temporary generator.
Chief of Supply Chain Operations Robert Stutson, Operations Analyst Supervisor Charlie Rios and Transportation Officer CPT Lucia Tart are in Puerto Rico as of Oct. 1 helping receive and offload needed supplies including Gatorade, nutrition bars, bottled water and more. They are there working with the dedicated permanent Puerto Rico Distribution Center associates directly impacted by the storms. These associates have leaned forward, coming to work every day and delivering mission support.
Recovery has begun, but for some associates putting their lives back together will be a priority in the coming weeks and months. Human Resources recently requested vacation leave hours for these associates. By Oct. 2, more than 6,000 hours of leave had been donated by caring associates. According to HR human resources manager Jun King, vacation leave donations have far exceeded vacation leave donation we normally received prior to the hurricanes. The outpouring of support has been incredible.
The Exchange retiree group, AREA, has begun taking donations for Exchange associates affected by the hurricanes. Learn more about this effort and how you can donate.
Many thanks to all Exchange team members from the distribution centers to store associates, supporting service members, their families and first responders when they needed it most during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Your superb coordination and assistance have been keys to ensuring our teammates were safe and high demand items were provided to our customers. Hooah!
– Tom Shull
The Exchange team in Puerto Rico show their pride after surviving two devastating hurricanes.
Update on Puerto Rico as of Oct. 13:
- Retirees and dependents were allowed back on Fort Buchanan for the first time since Hurricane Maria closed the installation to all but mission essential.
- The Main Store/PXtra and foodcourt opened early in anticipation of the larger crowds. The store threw a welcome home celebration for the customers as they came in the door.
- Customers were buying needed supplies as the recovery process is still underway in Puerto Rico.
Read about associates who went above and beyond in the wake of recent hurricanes.