Amazon opens disaster relief hub south of Atlanta

SOUTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Today is the official start of hurricane season, and while there’s nothing brewing in the Atlantic right now, Amazon is looking to help Georgia prepare.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach got a tour of the massive facility in Union City on Tuesday where emergency supplies are being stockpiled.

Amazon workers inside the fulfillment center do the final packing, sorting and shelving of a half million items. The stockpile, donated by Amazon, is their first Disaster Relief Hub.

Amazon’s six partner organizations, including the American Red Cross, tell them which items are needed most, from gloves, to bed sheets, to pop-up tents and vital water filtration systems.

“In that immediate aftermath and people don’t have lodging, food or clothing or water, help can’t wait,” said Abe Diaz with Amazon’s Disaster Relief Hub.

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That’s why they’re strategically positioned in metro Atlanta, close to interstates and the airport.

“We have quick access to the Gulf area, quick access to the Caribbean. At same time, we can go by truck, we can go by air,” Diaz said.

All the items are placed in large cardboard containers about 5 feet tall, so they fit on a pallet and perfectly inside the cargo hold of a 767 airplane to get them where they need to go fast.

The American Red Cross of Georgia said they’ve been relying on donations from Amazon for the last four years.

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“They’ve decided on positioning and having things ready to go, that’s truly going to benefit us this year, especially in those hard-to-reach places like the Caribbean if something happens,” said Sherry Nicholson, with the American Red Cross of Georgia.

But since they have the logistics mastered, they know now that what used to take days to pack and gather, will take only hours.

“At this point, we just have to grab the pallets and get them and move very quickly, so compressing time required to respond to a disaster,” Diaz said.

This is the first hub they’re opening. Amazon officials are hoping to learn from it and make it a model for more in the future so that they can place them in other parts of the country and eventually create a network of disaster relief across Amazon.

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