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Fundraisers underway, flags to fly at half-staff: the latest Amazon updates

Six who lost their lives at Amazon, top row from left: Austin McEwen, De’Andre Morrow and Etheria Hebb. Second row, from left: Kevin Dickey, Larry Virden, and Clayton Cope. Sources: family, friends, Facebook.

Here is the latest on the continuing reactions to the tornadoes that struck five Midwestern states on Friday, killing dozens, including the Amazon fulfillment center in Edwardsville, where six perished.

This story will be continuously updated, with newest updates at the top of the file.

Donations to Edwardsville Community Foundation

Gifts in care of those affected by the tragedy can be made to the Edwardsville Community Foundation, which has activated an ECF Relief Fund.

Donations can  made on the ECF website –

Durbin salutes president’s actions

In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, on Tuesday thanked President Biden for quickly approving Gov. JB Pritzker’s request for an emergency declaration for 13 counties — including Madison County — across the state.

Durbin led the entire Illinois delegation in urging the president to heed Pritzker’s request as repairing the severe damage is beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments.

“I thank President Biden for responding so quickly to this terrible disaster. Yesterday afternoon, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker requested an emergency declaration. Of course, we joined him in that request. The President issued the emergency order just a few hours after that request,” said Durbin.
Durbin concluded his speech by saying, “The tornadoes didn’t distinguish between red states and blue states… It is my great hope that the Senate will also put aside its politics for a few moments and stand together to help the victims.”

Fundraiser starts for De’Andre Morrow

Chelsea Thomas has created a GoFundMe fundraiser after the death of De’Andre Morrow at an Edwardsville Amazon factory during a tornado over the weekend.

“He was not only a son, a brother, a fiancé, a nephew, cousin, and friend,” Chelsea Thomas wrote. “De’Andre aspired to be a household name. He wanted his brand “Capitalize And Prosper LLC” to touch the world with his many plans to start laundromats, car washes, grocery stores, build housing for low income families, etc. He strived to make life better for his family, friends, and community.”

The fundraiser has a goal of $25,000.

To view the GoFundMe, please visit:

Flags flying at half staff

Edwardsville Mayor Art Risavy is requesting that all flags within the City of Edwardsville be lowered to half-staff beginning at sunrise on Wednesday, Dec. 15, through sunset on Friday, Dec. 17, in honor of the victims of the Amazon warehouse disaster.

Stuart welcomes OSHA investigation

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said she welcomes the investigation of the Amazon tragedy by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“I urge OSHA to conduct a timely and thorough investigation of the facility, including a complete audit of the building codes, building materials and code enforcement in the facility. This information will not only help families and workers get answers about Friday’s tragedy, but it will also help inform how we can reform our codes and policies around warehouse safety to help prevent tragedies like this in the future. While storms can be unpredictable, we need to do everything we can to protect people who may find themselves stuck at work during severe weather.  Thank you to OSHA for acting quickly on this matter. Our community looks forward to receiving answers.”

Congresswoman to hold mobile hours

Congresswoman Mary Miller, a Republican who represents the 15th Congressional District and parts of Metro East, will hold mobile office hours to address any concerns from area residents affected by the severe weather and tornado damage across the Midwest.

“We are continuing to pray for our neighbors and fellow Americans across the region in the aftermath of last week’s tornadoes,” Miller said. “My office has made it a top priority to ensure downstate Illinois receives the federal assistance it needs throughout the recovery. My office is here to assist and has been in touch with local officials, first responders, and FEMA.”

Miller was in Edwardsville Tuesday to survey damage with emergency management officials and her office will hold mobile office hours to assist constituents with federal services.

She will be at the Edwardsville Public Library – Presentation Room, 112 S. Kansas St., from 1 to 4 p.m.  Dec. 15, 16 and 17.

Fundraiser for Clayton Cope

A fundraiser has been started for Clayton Cope, who was killed during the tornado at an Amazon warehouse.

The GoFundMe was created by Cope’s brother-in-law who shared, “the world will never be the same without him and nor will this family.”

To view the GoFundMe, visit:

Schnucks to donate from cash registers

Schnuck Markets Inc. and the American Red Cross on Monday announced that Schnucks customers have the opportunity to help those affected by the tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest.

Continuing through Sunday, Dec. 19, Schnucks customers at checkout can round up their purchase to the nearest dollar with 100 percent of the donations going to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund.

“Our partners at the American Red Cross are working around the clock across several states to help those in need and make sure everyone has a safe place to stay, food to eat, critical relief supplies, emotional support and comfort in the face of one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in years,” said Schron Jackson, Schnucks director of Community Engagement and Customer Care. “Our customers also have the opportunity to help simply by telling their Schnucks checker that they want to ‘Round Up’ as they have so generously done in the past.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Schnucks’ customers and our partnership with Schnucks which allows the Red Cross to help those affected by these tornadoes and carry out our life saving mission,” said Beth Elders, executive director of the Greater St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Support for Austin McEwen’s Family

Austin McEwen, of Edwardsville, died at the distribution facility. The community has helped his family by donating more than $30,000.

“Austin was a beautiful soul, loved by all who met him,” the GoFundMe reads. “He had a wonderful smile and gave big, warm hugs. He was a talented baseball and hockey player. He loved the outdoors and his hunting dogs. He graduated from Vatterott College with a degree in mechanics. He was hard-working, kind and will be deeply missed. He was taken from this world far too soon.”

Larry Virden’s funeral

Justice Virden created this GoFundMe after her father, Larry Virden, of Collinsville, was killed at the Amazon facility. She hopes to raise $10K to help pay for her father’s memorial expenses.

In memory of Etheria Hebb.

This verified fundraiser was created by Summer Paolini, a co-worker of Etheria Hebb, of St. Louis, who lost her life at the Amazon warehouse.

“Etheria was well loved by many friends and family, as well as her coworkers,” Paolina shared. “She leaves behind her 1-year-old son, and family.”

Amazon warehouse survivor

Craig Yost was getting ready to clock out from his shift at the Amazon facility in Edwardsville when the tornado struck.

“They told him to come take cover in the bathroom,” the verified GoFundMe, created by Virginia Yost, reads. “He did just that and ended up with a concrete wall on top of him. He was trapped for three hours in the dark, cold, rainy night barely able to breathe. He was awake for this whole thing. He remembers it all and how it felt, what he heard, who he heard and was trapped through it all. He truly is blessed to be alive. By staying calm and not panicking he was able to make it.”

Yost suffered a fractured sacrum, pelvis and hip along with a concussion.

Bank encouraging contributions

JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon on Monday sent a letter companywide encouraging colleagues to contribute to those impacted.

JPMorgan Chase is committing $250,000 to local nonprofit organizations that are providing critical services in areas most heavily impacted.

“We know many of you are looking to contribute to the ongoing relief and recovery efforts. The firm has launched an employee matching campaign to maximize its collective impact,” Dimon said.

The website has more information.

Verizon making donations

The Verizon Foundation is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross, with funds dedicated toward regional disaster relief for communities impacted by the recent tornado outbreak in the Midwest.

This news follows Verizon’s response to provide unlimited text/cell/data relief to customers in parts of Kentucky (Mayfield and Owensboro) and Illinois (the hardest-hit sections of Edwardsville) from now through Dec. 18. In addition, Verizon is expanding that offer to customers in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and in the following Kentucky counties: Breckinridge, Caldwell, Graves, Hopkins, Lyon, Marshall, and Ohio County.

“For those in the hardest-hit communities, the recovery process continues long after the news cycle moves on,” said Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group. “That’s why we’re committed to supporting not just our customers, but also these communities at large as they begin to recover and rebuild following the devastating tornadoes.”

Send updates for this story to Editor Dennis Grubaugh of the Illinois Business Journal at


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