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Tornadoes Take Lives and Leave Swath of Destruction

Tornadoes Take Lives and Leave Swath of Destruction

People are still processing the impact of tornadoes that ripped through as many as 6 states late Friday and early Saturday, including the loss of many lives. CNN said officials fear the death toll could exceed 80.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy took to Twitter to offer condolences to the families and loved ones of employees who died at the Amazon Edwardsville facility in Illinois (we mistakenly reported Edwardsville was in Kentucky in our initial report).

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote on Twitter, “The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones. All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis. We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.”

It wasn’t the first storm to hit an Amazon warehouse, nor was it the only instance of a death at its facilities – not surprising given the scale of Amazon’s fulfillment network. On November 2, 2018, a tornado struck a Baltimore Sortation Center. But Friday night’s storm may well be the worst tragedy to strike an Amazon facility.

Sellers who store their inventory in Amazon warehouses expressed concern for the deceased workers as they looked for answers about which warehouse had been hit by the storm. One seller wrote, “I’m still looking for details on which warehouse this is but I hope the workers are all okay. Edit: it looks like it’s STL4.”

Another seller replied, asking Amazon moderators to provide an update as to the wellbeing of the employees, as well as directives for sellers for what to do when things like this happen to Fulfillment Centers.

Meanwhile, eBay posted an announcement, writing in part, “Our hearts go out to all those affected by the severe weather and tornadoes in the Southeast and parts of the Midwest.” It offered guidance to sellers and promised to protect performance metrics of those impacted by delays caused by the event.

FedEx said it had experienced substantial disruptions at the Memphis hub Friday night due to severe thunderstorms, but it seems only to have affected package deliveries across the US with a delivery commitment of December 11, 2021.

It’s not clear how Walmart stores and distribution centers fared, but it tweeted on Saturday: “We’re here to support our associates and neighbors impacted by the devastating tornadoes last night in Ark., Ill., Ken., Mo. and Tenn. We’re providing water and supplies and we will continue to look for ways to help.”

Update 12/12/2021: The Amazon Edwardsville warehouse is in Illinois, not Kentucky.

Update 12/12/2021: NBC has more and published the names of six people working inside the fulfillment center who died. This is tragic to hear.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

2 thoughts on “Tornadoes Take Lives and Leave Swath of Destruction”

  1. Will eBay still force sellers to refund bad buyers (read: impatient) when packages are a few days late?

  2. Why were employees still working through tornado warnings and not properly sheltered? Rhetorical question.

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