Last week, we reported the story of more than two dozen Walmart who became trapped inside an Ames, Iowa, store by rising flood waters. At the time, it was unclear as to just why the workers were in the store — authorities had warned managers of the impending flood the night before — but now Walmart says it was the employees’ choice to stay.
According to Walmart, when managers were given the heads-up about the possibility of a flood, they were given no reason to believe the store would have to be closed. Management then told the employees they could stay or go home if they wished.
“Nobody was asked to stay or forced to stay at any point in time,” said a rep for the retail chain. “This is something for us that is standard operating procedure within our environment. We tell our store managers all the time that safety comes first for our associates and our customers. That is what occurred there.”
The company rep says the workers “were safer there than trying to get on the road and go off on their own… That would have been more dangerous at that point.”
It wasn’t until early the next morning that employees were told by officials that they needed to evacuate. Unfortunately, the flood waters were a little too high for them to make the trek home.
A rep for the city of Ames admits that, while the employees were safely sheltering in place, it probably wasn’t the wisest idea to stay there:
But had they not been taken out of the store, they would not have been able to leave the store. So they might not have been asked to get out, but they could still be there [a day later] if they hadn’t left.
Wal-Mart: Workers had chosen to remain at Ames store that flooded [DesMoinesRegister.com]