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?’”
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.”