With hurricane season underway, the Exchange has been preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.
Exchange merchandising and logistics teams have been building inventory on critical emergency supplies including water, batteries, flashlights and generators to ensure that Soldiers and Airmen have what they need to remain ready and resilient after natural disasters.
Last year, customers felt the impact from hurricanes—about 10 installations suffered damage or experienced Exchange store closures. The Exchange leaned forward to make sure Soldiers and Airmen had the essentials to weather the storms—more than 2,000 supplies were shipped to Florida and Georgia ahead of Hurricane Michael.
“Ideally, our best-laid plans and preparation will be for naught,” said Army Capt. Conrad Bellard, Exchange Contingency Plans. “In the event that our facilities are affected by a hurricane, the Exchange team has the experience and internal processes in place to ensure that service members and their families will have access to critical supplies.”
The Exchange also stands ready with mobile field exchanges (MFE) should command request them to serve military first responders when a hurricane makes landfall.
An MFE is an “Exchange on wheels,” a 53-foot trailer stocked with emergency supplies, toiletries, snacks and drinks. Last year, an MFE was sent to Tyndall AFB and was the only store within miles after Michael devastated the installation.
“No other retail does what the Exchange does for troops after natural disasters,” Bellard said. “The MFE makes life a little more comfortable for those working to restore a sense of normalcy to the installation after a catastrophe. If we can bring just a bit of comfort or morale boost to an otherwise grim situation, then we have done our job.”