Reports about Amazon’s sluggish response to the deadly tornado that collapsed one of its facilities in Illinois just keeps getting worse and worse.
The latest comes in the form of a text message exchange between an Amazon driver and her manager. The messages, which were seen and verified by Bloomberg, showcase the confusion and chaos during the weekend’s disaster.
“Tornado alarms are going off over here,” the driver texted.
“Just keep delivering for now,” the manager replied. “We have to wait for word from Amazon if we need to bring people back, the decision is ultimately up to them.”
In less than an hour, the deadly weather began to escalate. The manager told the driver to “shelter in the place for now.”
However, the driver requested to head back to the facility instead.
“Having alarms going off next to me and nothing but locked buildings around me isn’t sheltering in place,” she texted. “That’s waiting to turn this van into my casket.”
The manager remained resistant to the idea, saying that the safest practice for the driver was to stay where they were. They added that if she returned with their packages, it would be viewed as “refusing your route” and would result in the driver “not having a job come tomorrow morning.”
“I’m literally stuck in this damn van without a safe place to go with a tornado on the ground,” the driver texted back.
The manager later told the driver that weather conditions were so bad at the facility that the wind had ripped a door off. Eventually, the tornado destroyed part of the facility and resulted in the deaths of six Amazon workers.
“This dispatcher should have immediately directed the driver to seek shelter when the driver reported hearing tornado sirens,” an Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg in a statement. “Under no circumstance should the dispatcher have threatened the driver’s employment, and we’re investigating the full details of this incident and will take any necessary action.”
Ultimately, it’s an incredibly haunting exchange that effectively highlights the communication breakdowns that can occur during disasters like these — as well as the dangerous pressure that companies like Amazon put on their workers.
READ MORE: Amazon Driver Texts Reveal Chaos as Illinois Tornado Bore Down [Bloomberg]
More on warehouse disaster: Amazon Workers Say Company Failed to Warn Them of Deadly Tornado