Ibrahima Bah of Pickering, Ohio, arrived at the Walmart distribution center in Lewiston at 2 a.m. Thursday to unload a load of frozen food. He was not able to unload until Friday afternoon. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A long line of trucks was parked outside the Walmart distribution center in Lewiston on Friday morning, waiting to get into the massive grocery distribution facility to offload their cargo.

An estimated 65 or more tractor trailers were parked near the entrance to the facility, located at 31 Alfred A. Plourde Parkway, according to photojournalist Daryn Slover, who went to the facility midday Friday. One trucker told him he arrived at the distribution center at 9 p.m. on Wednesday and has been waiting to get in and drop his load off ever since.

“There must have been 100 police officers here,” said driver Wesley Holman of Chicago, referring to Wednesday night.
“First run out to Maine, man what a run,” he commented, adding there was already one truck ahead of him when he pulled in.

“Just like COVID-19, just like a snowstorm in Buffalo, you don’t go anywhere,” said truck driver George Castle, from Buffalo, New York, who was waiting to deliver his load of onions Friday.

About 65 trucks were waiting Friday at the Walmart distribution center in Lewiston when the entrance was opened to unload. Some drivers had been waiting with their trucks since Wednesday night. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Slover described the mood as friendly, despite the chaotic situation, with people passing around snacks provided by Walmart. However, some trucks had to leave in order to refuel because refrigerated, or reefer trucks, must run continuously to keep their perishable loads safe.

Most employees have not been on-site since the Wednesday night shootings at Just-In-Time Recreation and Schemengees Bar & Grille, when the facility was put on lockdown. There were multiple reports that night of a third shooting at the Walmart distribution center, which is less than 2 miles from Schemengees. Walmart later issued a statement stating no shooting occurred on company property.

Some employees were called in to start unloading trucks on Friday and the gates were unlocked just after noon to let trucks into the distribution center. Others said they were told to be ready to report for work Friday afternoon or night, with others told to report as early as 3 a.m. Saturday.

Walmart spokesman Joe Pennington said the safety of employees was still a top priority and that the facility is in the process of reopening. “We’re coordinating with local officials to reopen our Walmart distribution center in Lewiston. We are also continuing to work with neighboring distribution centers to limit disruptions.” He said most of the trucks were off the roads near the distribution center just after 2 p.m.

Truck driver Wesley Holman of Chicago gets a thumbs up Friday while passing out snacks outside the entrance gate to the Walmart distribution center in Lewiston. Holman pulled up to the gate at 9 p.m. Wednesday with a load of frozen fish when he saw “100 police cars” responding to the mass shootings in Lewiston. Holman, along with over 60 other drivers, were not allowed to unload until a Walmart official gave the go-ahead at 12:05 p.m. Friday. In the meantime, Holman grabbed a box of water and snacks and handed items out to pass the time. “This is my first run out to Maine,” Holman says. “Man, what a run.” Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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