Search and recovery efforts at an Amazon delivery depot in Edwardsville, Ill., continued on Sunday, as the company and officials pieced together what happened on Friday evening when a ferocious tornado ripped through the building.
Mike Fillback, Edwardsville’s police chief, released the names of the six people who died at the facility, who ranged in ages from 26 to 62.
“There are no additional reports of people missing,” he said in a news release. “Search efforts continue, to ensure that there are no additional victims.”
Workers sheltered in two places when the tornado hit the warehouse, and “one of the areas was directly struck by the tornado,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, said on Sunday.
Ms. Nantel said based on preliminary interviews, the company believed about 11 minutes lapsed between first warning of the tornado and when it touched down. “I’m told it formed in the parking lot and hit and dissipated,” she said.
The building serves as a delivery depot, where Amazon employees sort packages for delivery to customers. The packages are loaded into vans, driven by contractors, who fan out in the local area to make deliveries for the day. About 190 people, including contractors, work at the site across all of its shifts, Ms. Nantel said.
The tornado struck around 8:30 p.m. on Friday, when drivers returned from their shifts delivering packages to customers. “Drivers are coming back from routes, returning vans, unpacking vans, walking out to cars,” she said. “It is a busy time.”
Emergency crews were deconstructing the damaged structure, and four semi trucks brought in dumpsters for debris.
Ms. Nantel said a large Amazon fulfillment center almost directly across the street from the delivery depot was not hit by the tornado and was closed Saturday and Sunday. She said the other facility in town, another delivery station, remained open.
The Madison County Coroner identified the six victims as Deandre S. Morrow, 28, of St. Louis, Mo.; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Ill.; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton, Ill.; Etheria S. Hebb, 34, of St. Louis, Mo.; Larry E. Virden, 46, Collinsville, Ill.; and Austin J. McEwen, 26, of Edwardsville.
At a Sunday morning service, clergy and members of Thrive Church, located about 10 miles from the Amazon warehouse, were trying to make sense of the disaster. After a pastor asked for prayers for the loved ones of those who died, Paul Reagan, a retired steelworker, raised his hand and asked why workers were still in building when the tornado hit.
“There is no reason for us to lose family members because corporate America wants a dollar,” Mr. Reagan said. Thrive has members who work at another nearby Amazon facility.
“Lord, I hear your call and my echo is frustration, is anger, Lord, on behalf of laborers who we do not value enough to protect in the ways that we should,” Sharon Autenrieth, a pastor, said during the service. “It’s not lost on me, Lord, that this was an Amazon warehouse, and I, like so many other people in this country, get irritated if I can’t get my Christmas gifts in three days from Amazon,” said Ms. Autenrieth. “Help me to put people before profit, before convenience and before this huge system that all of us are ensnared in.”
Source: NYT > Top Stories