Story by PO1 Joshua Hammond on 07/15/2019CHINA LAKE, California Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake's (NAWSCL) Navy Exchange (NEX) is open for business despite the recent earthquakes.
NAWSCL was affected by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which occurred near NAWSCL and the city of Ridgecrest, Calif., July 5 and a 6.4 magnitude earthquake one day prior.
Although Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Commander, Navy Region Southwest authorized the evacuation of personnel from NAWS China Lake to the designated Safe Haven until July 13, which was later modified to expire midnight on Wednesday, July 17, services on base became available just two days following the earthquakes.
With key and essential personnel and their families now beginning to return, NAWSCL is pleased to be able to offer their families some of the amenities that they have grown to appreciate while living on base.
"I'm actually really excited about [the NEX being open]," said Yeoman 3rd Class Isaiah Foster. "I don't have to drive out of my way for groceries or to the department store; I can just stay here on base and go to the NEX in my backyard."
Customers are not currently able to enter the NEX, but the store has items for sale outside and sales associates are working to ensure that every customer is able to purchase anything in the store.
"We are putting our top selling items out in front of our store for customers to browse," explains Lead Sales Clerk Emory Scipio, "but if our customers are looking for something specific we will go inside the store to grab the items you request."
For some people being able to shop on base again is more than just convenience and savings, it's about a return to their normal day-to-day life.
"I was happy to see that it was open," said Billingslea. "I normally go there every morning before work for snacks, so I got back in my routine."
Navy Exchange China Lake is more than just a department store, the NEX also offers its customers a barber shop, gas station and uniform shop. It is open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. with the barber shop open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the NEX self-service gas station open 24 hours a day.
The facility is currently awaiting final inspection of all repairs and may allow full entry as early as Tuesday, July 16.