PELLA, Iowa- Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Jason Andringa says they are "most pleased" that all injuries were relatively minor injuries, after a tornado caused extensive damage to two of their plant buildings east of Pella Thursday. He says plants "5" and "6" have significant structural damage, and the plant's waste water system was destroyed.
Andringa briefed reporters Thursday night, saying seven people were taken from the facility to the hospital in Pella, but were treated and released. Pella Police say several others were treated at the site for minor injuries after the tornado.
Andinga says in addition to hundreds of employees at the plant Thursday, it was their "Customer Appreciation Day," and they were hosting 400 guests. The parking lot was full, the tornado tossed cars on top of each other, pictures show the lot resembling a chaotic junkyard instead of a parking lot.
He credits management and law enforcement for their quick response, and he credits ongoing drills and tornado shelters. "I'm certainly glad we have done those drills in the past, and I"m certainly glad that we have put the effort that we have into being prepared for something like this," said Andringa. He says numerous tornado shelters throughout the facilities were the key to the limited injuries.
He says he's optimistic that the facilities will be up and running in the near future. He says they hope to have limited production begin again Monday.
"We certainly are going to rebuild, and come back stronger than ever," said Andringa.
Vermeer Road will be closed indefinitely as the clean-up begins.
(Photo from Channel 13 WHO-TV)