EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Edwardsville leaders and community members turned-out Friday to remember victims of the tornado that struck the Amazon distribution center, killing six people.
Officials held Friday’s ceremony at the public safety building, to get people out of the rain. It is one of the facilities that first responders were dispatched from on that fateful evening.
Pastor John Shank with Trinity Lutheran Ministries led Edwardsville community members in prayer and quoted scripture.
“God is our refuge and our strength,” he said, “very present help in trouble.”
Mayor Art Risavy said, “These individuals went to work that day like many of us but did not have the opportunity to return home. We want the families of these six individuals to know the city mourns with them.”
Clayton Cope is one of the victims of the tornado that struck the Amazon facility. His parents attended the ceremony, one week after their son was killed. The other victims include Kevin Dickey, Etheria Hebb, Austin McEwen, Deandre Morrow, and Larry Virden.
Clayton’s mother, Carla Cope, said, “The outpouring of love and support for my son and the others who lost their lives has been just tremendous, and we can’t thank everyone enough.”
From Lutheran Church Charities, Esther the Comfort Dog was in the fire house, ready to lend her support.
“She is soft and beautiful,” said dog-wrangler, Mary Burch, “so people ask questions about her. We invite them to pet her, and you can just see the expression on their faces, even behind a mask.”
Edwardsville residents also offered comfort to people who lost loved ones in the tornado.
“It’s loss that we have all experienced as a community,” said Robert Harris. “We’re here to show our support for the families and the community.”
Mary Ann Harris said, “Like the pastor said, we’re supposed to love each other. That’s what I hope comes out of this - that we just band together and stay together after this horrible tragedy.”
Illinois Representative Katie Stuart read a letter from Governor J.B. Pritzker, who traveled to Edwardsville, earlier, this week.
Quoting Pritzker, Stuart said, “We stand with their loved ones during this pain and heartache. Illinois stands with you; the nation stands with you.”