Record-breaking tornado outbreak devastates Midwest


Photo via AP Photos/Mark Humphrey

    Kentucky broke a grim record over the weekend of December 10, 2020 as a series of tornadoes battered the state in what would become the most deadly tornado event in the state’s history. There were a total of 77 people killed by the tornado outbreak in Kentucky alone, with 93 dead in total across five states along with hundreds more injured. 

   The economic costs of the outbreak, which included at least 35 confirmed tornadoes, are equally devastating. In total, damages caused by the tornadoes are expected to cost about $18 billion, with 1,000 homes destroyed and many more damaged by the storms. FEMA, also known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was quickly dispatched to the affected areas to provide desperately needed food, blankets, and tarps for those displaced by the storms.

   For many, two incidents over the course of the tornado outbreak proved to highlight the importance of workers’ safety and the divide between the interests of employees and the companies they work for. Nine employees working at a candle factory owned by Mayfield Consumer Products were killed in a factory collapse caused by the storms after being threatened with firing should they go home to seek shelter from the dozens of tornadoes ravaging the state. 

   Similarly, Amazon has received widespread backlash after it was found that six workers had been killed in a collapsed warehouse as a result of one of these tornadoes. According to critics, these tragic deaths highlighted the need for improvement in Amazon’s worker safety protocols and building codes, particularly in the notorious Tornado Alley. Jameisha Ross, an Amazon employee working in the same area where the collapse took place, reported that her workplace’s severe weather assembly area was marked only by a hanging banner and “surrounded by very heavy bulk items” which could prove extremely hazardous to employees in a severe weather event.