In a CBS News report aired on the news channel this morning, reporter Jacque Wilson captured the devastation and destruction caused by an EF4 tornado that hit an Amazon fulfillment center in Peoria, Illinois, Wednesday afternoon.
According to Wilson, the storm was at one point covering 4 acres at once — a heaping pile of twisted metal, flying debris and a shred of glass that stretched 50 feet high. The building, which reportedly was fully loaded at the time, was reduced to the empty box and a pile of concrete at the time of the report.
The destructive storm came just hours after the United States suffered an EF-4 tornado (the second highest rating) and damaging hail along its northern region.
The next day, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis told CBS that, while the amount of damage was devastating, it was better than some of the other cities and towns that had been hit with the twister earlier.
“The damage that was here was a thousand times greater than in Gary,” Ardis said. “You could drive from northwest Indiana — we’re talking about the eye of the storm — through Gary and just about every street through Gary had a parking lot that was hit by this tornado.”
Beyond that, Ardis gave the town of 25,000 a friendly warning that “God’s not giving us any more prayers.”
“We’re starting over again,” he said. “And what we’ve got to do to get to where we want to be is going to be pretty damn tough. We’re not in Kansas any more.”
Earlier in the year, the mayor had told CBS News he thought that Amazon’s Peoria warehouse was “the biggest cash machine in the state.” The tech giant has already struck a deal to locate an Amazon fulfillment center in Grand Prairie, Texas, a city of about 15,000 people south of Dallas.
Ahead of the Chicago metro area, which makes up Illinois’s largest market, Peoria was previously the most productive Amazon distribution center in the United States. A Seattle Times report published at the time said Amazon employees working at the sprawling warehouse, known as the Peoria Center, often referred to it as “Amazon Town.”
One employee said the warehouse’s impact on the economy was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“When you bring people back to the area and their houses are repaired, they’re filling, you know, truckloads of meals or meals that they make for their customers,” the employee said. “There’s all kinds of things like that that are bringing this town back.”