State Watch

Illinois governor surveys damage at Amazon facility: ‘A tragedy of enormous proportion’

AP Photo/Michael Clubb

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) assessed the damages from recent tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that took place over the weekend on Monday, calling it a “tragedy of enormous proportion.”

Pritzker visited the battered town of Edwardsville, where an Amazon warehouse partially collapsed, killing six. The governor lamented the deaths of the six workers at the warehouse during a news conference.

“Six individuals clocked in on Friday, and they never came home,” he said. “We are ensuring there is a full understanding of what happened to these individuals in their final moments. And while we cannot prevent natural disasters, we can strive to prevent future tragedies and ensure all Illinoisans make it home at the end of their shifts.”

When the storm hit, 46 employees were working in the warehouse. In addition to the six fatalities, one other employee is still receiving medical treatment, the governor said.

Pritzker said the state government will also look into the warehouse facility to ensure building codes were up to date and assess whether it had any structural deficiencies.

Unusually warm winter weather led to the development of severe thunderstorms, spawning dozens of devastating tornadoes that hit Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi.

Authorities are still assessing the damages and casualties, but at least 74 are confirmed dead in Kentucky and 14 others were killed in several other states.

Six tornadoes were confirmed in Illinois. The hardest-hit area in the state was Madison County, where the 1.1 million-square-foot Amazon warehouse was destroyed.

Power has been restored throughout Illinois, Pritzker announced, but the governor called attention to the unprecedented nature of the storms, which spawned devastatingly fast twisters in the winter, weather that is uncommon for the season. 

“We have not seen something like this for quite awhile,” he said. “And unfortunately these storms are happening more often. It doesn’t help to know that, it’s just a fact.”

Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation on Monday for more than 20 affected counties.

State Rep. Katie Stuart, a Democrat representing Edwardsville, thanked the governor and the state for a swift response to the tragedy and urged the community to support one another.

“As our community looks ahead following the devastating storms that hit our region last weekend, now is a time for us to come together to support each other and heal,” Stuart said in a statement.

At the news conference, the governor said first responders are still working to rescue individuals.

“They moved heaven and earth to respond to this disaster,” Pritzker said, “reuniting families when they could and comforting loved ones when they couldn’t.”

Tags damages Edwardsville Illinois J.B. Pritzker Katie Stuart Madison County Natural Disaster severe storms thunderstorms tornadoes

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