Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday issued a disaster proclamation for nearly 30 counties across central and southern Illinois affected by tornados and other severe weather over the weekend.
“We are working directly with the White House and with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to ensure access to federal resources for this community, and, as local entities work to secure federal reimbursements and recovery dollars, we will assist every step of the way,” Pritzker said in Edwardsville on Monday.
The governor issued a disaster proclamation for 28 Illinois counties, including Bond, Cass, Effingham, Jackson, Kankakee, Lawrence and Madison counties.
The disaster proclamation allows the state to quickly get resources, personnel and other equipment into communities that are recovering from the storms and gives the Illinois Emergency Management Agency the ability to acquire any additional supports those areas may need.
Pritzker said the state’s emergency management agency continues to work with local officials to “actively monitor the storm’s impact throughout the state and especially in central Illinois.”
In Edwardsville, which is located nearly 300 miles south of Chicago, in Madison County, a tornado caused major damage at an Amazon facility that left six people dead and another injured. The governor said Monday that person is still receiving medical treatment.
“We are ensuring that there is a full understanding of what happened to these individuals in their final moments,” Pritzker said. “While we cannot prevent natural disasters, we can strive to prevent future tragedies and ensure that all Illinoisans make it home safe at the end of their shift.”
Pritzker said an effort to determine whether or not the Amazon facility had any structural issues is underway. The Edwardsville facility impacted by the storms is a 1.1 million square foot delivery station that opened in July 2020.
Pritzker added that the state has inquired about whether or not Amazon followed best practices when it comes to protecting its workers.
Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement the company is “deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville.”
The company says it’s providing employees and their families with supplies and services, including transportation, food, clean water and other immediate needs.
Pritzker recommend Illinoisans looking to help reach out to the Edwardsville Community Foundation as well as other nonprofits to help the survivors of the storm.
Madison County Coroner Stephen Nonn on Sunday identified the six people who were killed at the Amazon facility. Four were from Illinois: Austin J. McEwen, 26, of Edwardsville; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton; Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville and Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle.
Two others — 28-year-old Deandre S. Morrow and 34-year-old Etheria S. Hebb — were from St. Louis.
The destruction at the Amazon facility was caused by one of several devastating tornadoes that tore through Illinois and four other states on Saturday, leaving hundreds of miles of damage in their wake. The track of destruction by the violent tornadoes could set a record for the longest in the U.S. history.