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Amazon opens first disaster-relief logistics hub

Facility near Atlanta to support efforts in US Southeast, Bahamas, Caribbean and Central America Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) said Tuesday it has opened its first facility dedicated to storing and distributing emergency supplies used in supporting disaster-relief efforts.

The 10,000-cubic-foot facility near Atlanta holds more than half a million relief supplies that were donated and pre-positioned by Amazon, the Seattle-based e-tailer said. The facility is designed to support relief groups responding to disasters in the U.S. Southeast, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Central America, Amazon said. The announcement’s timing coincided with the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Atlanta was chosen because of its relatively close proximity to the affected areas, Amazon said. The site’s location will help Amazon’s humanitarian aid partners respond more swiftly to natural disasters, it said. The company did not specify the facility’s exact whereabouts.

The facility’s opening is the culmination of four years of study by Amazon into ways to expedite disaster-relief responses. Typically, emergency teams assess what supplies they have, procure items that they need and then consolidate, pack and ship the supplies into disaster zones. The process can take several days from start to finish. Amazon’s pre-positioning strategy is an effort to accelerate the process to quickly get supplies to where they’re needed, it said.

The strategy is designed to quickly ship out the supplies most commonly needed at the front end of disaster relief. Those goods include tarps, tents, water containers and filters, medical equipment, clothing items and kitchen supplies. Once those supplies are airborne on the first flight out, Amazon will work with its partners to identify other needed supplies from the company’s vast inventory.

Amazon will likely expand its disaster-relief hub network at some point, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

The Atlanta disaster-relief hub will initially support six global humanitarian aid organizations: the American Red Cross, Direct Relief, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Medical Corps, Save the Children and World Central Kitchen.

Amazon said it has donated more than $29 million in cash and in-kind products in response to 59 natural disasters around the world since 2017.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.