December 9: The US state of Kentucky is hit hard by a recent tornado. It has a direct impact on the daily routine of the poor and the working people. Workers at a candle factory there have filed a lawsuit alleging “obvious indifference” to their employer’s refusal to allow workers to return home in the face of a dangerous storm. They have filed a case claiming that eight workers were killed due to the indifference of the employer.
Locals are seen repairing their dilapidated houses. The weather is becoming unfavorable. Daily routine is becoming difficult. Sweepers are removing fallen trees and other debris. The western Kentucky storm is expected to receive up to 2 inches (5 cm) of rain for a while, officials said. President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency and instructed the local government to come to the rescue, but locals are still suffering.
At a recent event, Kentucky Governor Andy Bashier said it would be difficult for people who have had their homes demolished to repair their homes immediately. He said, “Even if the roof of the collapsed house is repaired, the coming rains will ruin it.”
Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed against Aber Mayfield Consumer Candle Products Company on Wednesday accused Kentucky of violating occupational safety and health workplace standards. It is alleged that the employees were forced to work despite the threat of death and injury. It is claimed that workers were threatened with dismissal if they left work just hours before the tornado arrived, so workers could not flee. The lawsuit seeks compensation and punitive damages.
The company’s CEO, Troy Propes, said in a statement on Wednesday that the company had set up an “independent expert team” to review the work of managers and staff at the factory during the storm. The factory claimed that “the tornado took three and a half hours to allow its employees to leave their workplace as a precautionary measure before it hit the company directly.” By refusing to do so, the factory has shown a “clear indifference to workers’ rights,” the lawsuit alleges.
Haley Kander, a factory worker, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that an observer had threatened her with disciplinary action if she returned home early. Kander questioned why the company did not encourage workers to go home – or at least did not give them a better understanding of the danger. However, the siren sounded around 6 pm before the first tornado. Similarly, around 9 pm on Friday, shortly before the storm.
The only plaintiff identified in the case is Elijah Johnson, who was working at the candle factory at night when the storm hit. Other workers did not want to be named because of fear. More than 100 people were working on candle orders when the storm hit. However, the company said it did not know the exact number of people who were working as the workers fled without information after the storm. The hurricane, which began Friday night, had a direct impact on a 200-mile (320-kilometer) area from Arkansas to Illinois and parts of neighboring states from Kentucky. There has been a lot of damage in those areas as well.
Bachier said the Kentucky Workplace Safety Agency would investigate the deaths of eight people. Similarly, debris and garbage have made this state chaotic. The mayor said that there is still a long way to go towards its reconstruction and normalization of people’s livelihood. Police and other emergency services personnel have been deployed in the area for rescue and facilitation. The BBC and CNN are showing daily reports of particular importance. Environmentalists and scientists have blamed environmental impacts and rising temperatures for such catastrophic natural disasters.
Among the most significant damage: a tornado or strong wind destroyed an occupied candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon warehouse in western Illinois, and a nursing home in Arkansas, killing people in each community and forcing responders to rescue others.
The storm also killed at least six people at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, outside St. Louis. The storm has damaged a large structure of the building. Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said it was “extremely painful”. Forty-five people were evacuated from the building, some of them still seriously injured.
There have also been reports of tragic deaths in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. The damage caused by the tornado that disrupted daily life is now being collected. Officials here say it will take a long time to rebuild the collapsed structures.
In the northeastern Arkansas town of Monet, at least one person died in a storm-damaged nursing home. According to Mayor Bob Blankenship, several people were trapped in the nursing home before the rescue, and at least 20 were injured, CNN reported. Speaking at a news conference, Michael Dossett, Kentucky’s director of emergency management, said the storm had caused “great loss of life and property and was one of the saddest and most tragic in its history.” Federal Emergency Management Agency trucks have arrived in the affected area with relief supplies. This is likely to be the largest natural disaster in the United States in 2021.
When such a natural disaster is declared, the federal government, under the leadership of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides necessary assistance in requesting and supporting the states, tribes, territories, and insular areas and local jurisdictions affected by the disaster. Such collaborative response activities are organized under the National Response Framework to facilitate quick and systematic relief and rescue work in coordination with the local level and the center. With such a well-organized structure and the availability of all the resources and means, it seems that such natural disasters in the United States can be addressed in a timely and easy manner. The devastation caused by the tornado two weeks ago in Kentucky and other states is now moving towards normalization. News is coming out that the people have directly felt the presence of the state.Photo: Agency