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Resilient Puerto Rico Associates Return to Work After Earthquake

Soldiers buy essentials at Puerto Rico’s Camp Santiago.

Exchange associates in Puerto Rico returned to work this week to serve customers after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the island Jan. 7.

Puerto Rico’s most powerful earthquake in more than a century caused no damage to Exchange stores at Fort Buchanan and Camp Santiago. Associates were not injured, but many came to work although they had no electricity in their houses.

Store Manager Rochelle Tolentino said her 165 associates were extremely organized and knew how to pull things together to get the stores operating.

“They applied the lessons learned from Hurricane Maria, but they’re nervous,” Tolentino said. “It’s the unknown because they simply don’t know what will happen next. People are wondering ‘Is it going to happen again and be bigger?’”

On the morning the earthquake hit, Exchange customers  wanted their Starbucks.

Across the island, however, the quakes leveled buildings, killed at least one person and left more than 300 people homeless. Hurricane Maria devastated the island in the fall of 2017, and residents haven’t fully recovered.

The quake, which struck about 4:24 a.m. on the island’s southern coast, zapped power to island, including Exchanges at Fort Buchanan and Camp Santiago and Puerto Rico Distribution Center. On Jan. 7 Fort Buchanan operated on electrical generators and gave access only to ID cardholders, but the installation was back to normal the next day.

Although the Exchange saw a major run on fuel on Jan. 7, fuel levels are back to normal.

General Manager Stephanie Wilson praised associates for coming into work on the day the earthquake struck.

“Their strength and attitude are what I admire about them,” Wilson said. “I am amazed at their resiliency. I proud of this team because they’ve been through a lot.”

Drivers queue up to the Exchange gas pumps for fuel on the day the earthquake struck.

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4 Comments

  1. Jolie on January 9, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Aafes Strong!

    • Steve Smith on January 13, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Jolie:

      Thanks for writing to your Exchange Post regarding the Puerto Rico associates! And, yes, AAFES Strong!

      Does anybody else out there want to share their thoughts. If so, type your thoughts in the comment box and hit enter.

      Thanks!
      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

  2. Migdalia Ruiz-Campbell on January 16, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    I’m proud of this team because they’ve been through a lot. I pray for healing and recovery for Puerto Rico.

    • Steve Smith on January 17, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Migdalia:

      Thank you for writing to your Exchange Post. I’m going to forward your comments to the GM down there. I’m sure she and her associates would love to read these comments.

      Let’s keep the conversation going! If anybody wants to share their thoughts on this article, type them in the comment box and hit enter.

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

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