MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Following the investigation of a rodent infestation at its West Memphis, AR. warehouse, Family Dollar was forced to close hundreds of stores across six southern states, including about 60 store locations in the Memphis area.
"We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter, and are in the process of remediating the issue," Family Dollar said in a statement.
The FDA released a 22-page inspection report on the West Memphis warehouse location. According to the FDA, it inspected the facility from January 11 to February 11. The findings included rodent droppings on various products, including food, in which the FDA said there were "too numerous to count".
According to the report, both ceiling tile and carpeting were removed from the office located above the warehouse's breakroom last October because of a lingering odor in the room that indicated dead or decaying animals.
The report states that there were multiple rats seen climbing up rack scaffoldings and through a pallet of potato chips, as well as significant gnawings on multiple bags of open products.
Pest control records show that 2,300 rodents were captured between March and September in 2021 alone. During fumigation in January, about 1,100 dead rodents were removed.
Tennessee officials are ramping up investigation efforts into Family Dollar store locations. State representative G.A. Hardaway is requesting a joint investigation between the state health department, state consumer affairs, and Shelby County health department.
Hardaway said he expects the investigation to reveal why state agencies didn't respond to issues like piled up trash that have been reported at local Family Dollar stores for years.
He also said that he hopes to usher in emergency food replacement through the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
Hardaway is asking Family Dollar employees and customers who may have been affected to contact him or other elected officials if they need assistance.
ABC24 reached out to Family Dollar numerous times, but has not heard from the company regarding how they plan to take care of their hourly employees.
Hourly employees are heavily affected in situations like this, because they do not get paid if they do not work.
Tennessee employees who have been experienced work interruptions because of Family Dollar store closings, can apply for unemployment benefits here.
There are five steps included in the application process.
1. File a claim.
2. Be actively looking for work...
3. Check in weekly with the state about your job hunt and any earnings.
4. Be on the lookout for two letters that explain your potential benefit amount and the agency's decision.
5. If you are approved for benefits, choose how you want to get paid.
According to the state's website, the goal is to approve and issue benefits within three weeks of submitting an application, but because there is a high claim volume right now, applicants should expect the approval process to take longer.
For those looking for a job, there are more than 450,000 jobs on the state's website. The website also offers resume writing assistance.
ABC24 will continue to reach out to Family Dollar daily for more updates.