Commissaries all open, returning to normal after substantial damage caused by Florence
For photos and video related to the recovery of commissary operations after Hurricane Florence on DeCA’s Flickr page, go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/commissary/sets/72157671501132937
FORT LEE, Va. – Commissaries in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are all open and slowly returning to normal after withstanding Hurricane Florence’s damaging wind, rain and flooding.
“The effects of Florence are still being felt by a large number of our service members and their families in several states,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, DOD special assistant for commissary operations. “North Carolina in particular bore the brunt of this historic storm, and our commissary staffs there continue to work diligently with their host installations to restore the full benefit to their communities.”
The storm, which made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 14, spawned torrential rains and flooding that temporarily closed or interrupted the operating schedules of a number of commissaries in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
On Sept. 18, three support teams from the Defense Commissary Agency headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia, traveled to North Carolina to help the stores at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point restore operations.
All of the commissaries affected by Florence are now open, including the store at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, the last store to come back online Sept. 20.
Commissaries at Marine Corps installations in North Carolina are adjusting their hours to help support the influx of returning service members and their families. For example, Camp Lejeune is opening extra hours over the weekend, and Cherry Point (Monday) and New River (Sunday) will be open on their regularly scheduled closed days.
“One of the most welcome pieces of news our families got three days after the hurricane passed was that the commissary was open for business,” said Nat Fahy, director of communications strategy and operations for New river and Camp Lejeune. “Having the commissary open its doors that early was the clearest sign their lives were beginning to return to some sense of normalcy.”
Commissary patrons are asked to stay connected to their installation websites for overall base access information and to their commissary webpages for any changes to their store’s operational status.
Throughout the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Florence, DeCA has worked with its industry partners and their military communities to restore and maintain commissary operations at its hardest hit stores:
- Camp Lejeune. The store reopened with limited service and staff on Sept. 19 and had returned to normal operating hours by Sept. 21. Suppliers are delivering a steady stream of staple items including bread, milk, eggs, fresh meat and fresh produce, and more orders are in the pipeline to prepare for the influx of patrons returning to the base. The commissary sustained extensive water damage to the roof and sales floor. The store also needed to restore its HVAC and refrigeration systems. The installation provided Marines in 14-member teams, working five-hour shifts, to help the store clean up. The base also provided temporary roof repairs.
- New River. The store reopened with limited service and staff on Sept. 20 and returned to normal operating hours the next day. The commissary also sustained extensive water damage to the roof and lost a considerable amount of product inventory. The base also provided Marines to help in recovery as the store undergoes repairs to its roof and restores its HVAC and refrigeration systems. As repairs continue, the store is using a refrigerated trailer for perishable products and plug-in coolers for milk.
- Cherry Point. The store reopened Sept. 19 with limited service and staff and has since returned to its normal schedule. The building sustained water damage and the loss of HVAC and refrigeration systems.
- Fort Bragg South. The store reopened Sept. 19. It had sustained rain water damage to the sales floor as well as loss of HVAC, refrigeration and network systems. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, store personnel from Bragg South helped its sister store at Bragg North reopen. Local flooding made travel challenging or near impossible for many store employees.
The commissaries most affected by Florence are expected to be in some form of recovery mode for months to come, and it will take a coordinated effort for them to return to their pre-storm status, Bianchi said.
“We are indebted to the Marines for their critical assistance as we worked to restore basic commissary operations after Florence,” he said. “We also could not have reopened any of our stores without suppliers like MDV who maneuvered around closed and flooded roadways to deliver critical products, especially much-sought-after water.”
-- By Kevin L. Robinson
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.