Vermeer plant struck by tornado

Seven reported injured from severe damage done to Pella, Iowa, equipment maker’s campus.

July 23, 2018
Brian Taylor

The manufacturing and office campus of Pella, Iowa-based equipment maker Vermeer Corp. was struck by a tornado on Thursday, July 19, which caused several injuries and severe damage to the complex.

According to a noticed posted to the firm’s website, “Severe weather hit Vermeer Corp. around 4 p.m.” on July 19. “In addition to our team members who were working at that time, over 400 dealers and customers were onsite for the 2018 Customer Conference.”

The company’s July 19 initial post also reads in part, “The process to account for our more than 2,700 Pella-based team members is underway. All dealers and customers visiting have been accounted for.”

That post also stated, “Our efforts, along with emergency services, have been focused on ensuring those on our property during the weather event were safe and cared for. Injuries were treated both here and at Pella Regional Health Center. It is our understanding that those treated have been released.”

Regarding damage to structures, Pella Corp’s statement indicates:

  • its corporate office, Plant 1, Plant 2, Plant 3, Parts Distribution Center, Global Pavilion, Lely and Yellow Iron Academy Learning Center appear to have zero to minor damage;
  • plant 4, plant 7 and the Vermeer Advanced Systems/Testing facility will need a structural assessment before the impact of the damage and the ability to continue operations can be fully determined; and
  • plant 5 and plant 6 both have significant structural damage that Vermeer indicates might limit its ability to continue operations there; the firm’s waste management facility is described as “a complete loss.”

An Associated Press report indicates seven people injured at the complex required offsite medical care, all of whom had been treated and released.

A second notice from Vermeer Corp. thanks emergency responders from Pella and surrounding communities for working along with Vermeer employees to quickly ensure the health and safety of all those present, and to engage in initial cleanup.

A July 20 online article by the Des Moines Register includes photos of damage and a quote from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who inspected the damage and stated it was “truly, truly just a miracle that we had no fatalities.”

Vermeer Corp. makes equipment for several industry sectors, including size reduction, screening and composting equipment for recyclers of wood and other organic materials.