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Archive for Monday, May 12, 2008

County seeking public comment on when to sound outdoor warning sirens

May 12, 2008

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Douglas County leaders are trying to strike a delicate balance when it comes to sounding outdoor tornado warning sirens.

"I don't want it to go off every time a cloud comes out of the southwest," county Commissioner Bob Johnson said during Monday's commission meeting.

"Even now there are people who pay no attention to the sirens whether they hear them or not," he said.

Perhaps the sirens should be about more than tornadoes, Commissioner Charles Jones said. He noted that the last two damaging wind storms to hit the area involved mostly straight-line winds. He said he wonders if enough is being done to warn people.

"It just seems to me that the warnings ought not be just about tornadoes. It should be about people and risk and where to go beyond that," Jones said.

Commissioners want to hear what the public thinks about the use of tornado sirens. They scheduled a public hearing on the issue for their May 21 meeting. The meeting starts at 6:35 p.m. on the second floor of the courthouse, 1100 Mass.

Most likely commissioners will hear mixed sentiments from the public. That's what Commissioner Jere McElhaney said he has heard from people since the siren issue came up on May 2. During the early morning hours that day storms blew through the county causing damage. The county didn't sound the sirens even though the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. The county's policy is not to sound the sirens unless there is a local determination that one exists.

Emergency Management Director Teri Smith said she, too, had received mixed comments by phone and e-mail about the policy since the storm. But during last Thursday's emergency management committee meeting only two local residents showed up for a discussion despite advance publicity about the meeting.

Among other business, commissioners on Monday approved a preliminary plat and conditional use permit for a new Willow Springs Township Fire Station No. 2. The station will be built at the intersection of North 650 and East 1100 roads, southwest of Pleasant Grove.

Comments

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 5 years, 11 months ago

Melott, have you checked into cell phone alerts?

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del888 5 years, 11 months ago

Lets have somebody drive up and down the streets in the 'T' buses with a microphone yelling 'tornado, tornado!'.At least the buses would get some use. --- Actually I think they should sound the sirens about 10 minutes before the storm is going to hit my house.

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melott 5 years, 11 months ago

I was one of the two people who came to comment at the last meeting (8 am). It is interesting that the committee itself could not conduct business because there were not enough of them to make a quorum.When indoors, we are supposed to rely on weather radio. However, in Lawrence we are in an area of weak, unreliable signal:http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/states/kansas.htmlat my house, I can get the stations--but only when the weather is good!

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Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 5 years, 11 months ago

KSA, I didn't read it because: 1) I don't have a problem with the current system, 2) I have a life outside of internet blogs, and 3) refer to number 1.I don't want sirens sounding every time a warning is issued in Douglas county. Sounding the sirens in the area of the warning or closest to the possible threat is reasonable. If the threat is heading for Eudora and I live in Lawrence, I don't need to have a siren sounding. You didn't answer my question. I'm not surpised that you overlooked it.

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Curtis Lange 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm just posting since I see there is a 'kuwxlady' out there. :)

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KSA_21_3503 5 years, 11 months ago

"Interstingly, your proposal still leaves the decision up to the on-duty EM officer. Hmm, isn't that what it is now?"No, if you bothered to actually read it, you will see that it EXPLICITLY removes the decision from the on-duty EM officer in the case of an NWS issued tornado warning. That is the whole point.

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Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 5 years, 11 months ago

KSA_21_3503 (Anonymous) says: I posted this elsewhere:The policy should read something like:_______OMG, you are so full of yourself. Interstingly, your proposal still leaves the decision up to the on-duty EM officer. Hmm, isn't that what it is now?So, gonna show yourself at the May 21st meeting, KSA, or gonna keep directing from your anonymous blog?

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Pudgy1 5 years, 11 months ago

"I was struck a couple of years ago..."How scary that must have been. Were you hospitalized? Any long term affects from it?

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 11 months ago

Please, everyone remember to stay away from the water in your house when there's a storm.A 14 yr old girl in Topeka was struck by lightning while taking a shower during the storm last Sat. It came sturck her house, and came through the water pipes. She was able to walk out the door, then she collapsed. She's recovering in the hospital, but they say she won't be out for 2 weeks while they do tests to confirm she's okay. It took a while, but she started acting normally.I was struck a couple of years ago, when I reached over during a storm to pull the fabric vertical blinds aside to see the weather. At that moment, it struck somewhere around here, came down the blinds, down that arm, across me to my laptop on my lap, back into my knee and down to my foot/floor.

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KSA_21_3503 5 years, 11 months ago

"I will just say this:"But during last Thursday's emergency management committee meeting only two local residents showed up for a discussion despite advance publicity about the meeting."So one could assume that people were on here just to be fussing and didnt really care about sirens:typical from alot of these bloggers."The fact that it was at 8:00am had a lot to do with the low turnout. Most people who would be coming to the meeting to discuss this have to work.

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KSA_21_3503 5 years, 11 months ago

I posted this elsewhere:The policy should read something like:"If the NWS issues a tornado warning for Douglas County or the Emergency Management Duty Officer on duty determines there is a tornado threat or some other immediate need for warning because of a severe weather threat in Douglas County, then the siren system shall be activated. This determination is only to be made by Douglas County Emergency Management staff in the event that NWS has not issued a tornado warning, and will be based on the evaluation of all available information. This may include, but is not limited to, National Weather Service watch and/or warning text, weather radar and reports from trained weather spotters or law enforcement officers.Douglas County has the capability of activating all of the sirens at once or more selectively by activating one or more of the six siren zones. All sirens are sounded unless the threat is clearly confined to an individual zone(s). The sirens will be sounded for three minutes initially, and then intermittently throughout the warning period as needed. There is NO "all-clear" siren."And, fire Bob Newton.

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macon47 5 years, 11 months ago

the govt needs to take us from cradle to grave and insure our safety and wellfare all the way.regardless of the cost..if we are drunk or stoned they needto drag us out of our hovel andcart us to an underground facilityfor our safety.

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Mike Blur 5 years, 11 months ago

Tear the freakin' sirens down!

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Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

Asbestos that article is so wrong in so many different ways but made me laugh thanks.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

yes people have tv, radio, internet but most people are trying to sleep at 1 or 2 in the am and tornadoes are not the easy to spot at this hour. Sound the sirens when a warning is issued the whole point is to give people an extra few minutes to get safe.Most people I know are not up watching the sky at 1am.

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Moderateguy 5 years, 11 months ago

You're doing a heckuva job Brownie, I mean Teri....

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kuwxlady 5 years, 11 months ago

hmmm let's see, everyone had a TV to watch to know of the approaching storm, be prepared! If you don't have TV, get a weather radio. Always be prepared for weather when it's moving in! geez it's not hard people! You can't depend on sirens to go off, sadly, but true. So stop whinning and get prepared! We do live in "Tornado Alley". And also, everyone on here as a computer...has access to radar...NWS website...so when severe weather is coming be prepared!

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ASBESTOS 5 years, 11 months ago

Seems like this "Emergency Management Agency" forgets the whole reason for being.....That would be PREPAREDNESS. That means BEFORE and prophilatically. Take this siren wail instead of a 2 x 4 upside the head.These idiots are in charge of EMERGENCY PREPARDNESS???!!! Strike a delicate balance? With Public Health on an event that either wipes a town off the map, or most usually 90% of the time misses the populated area. As they say, it only takes wrong once to show stupidity. Sounding the sirens is necessary, but need to be isolated as the previous poster stated. You don't set them off for the whole county, only the effected areas. In DFW metro you can track the storms coming through by the doppler like effect of the sirens stalking across the Metro area, coming closer, then fading off PRECEDING the storm.That is what the "BIG BOYS" do. Where ya at there Lawrence? In the "Kansas Triangle"?http://www.theonion.com/content/news/30_years_of_mans_life_disappear_in?utm_source=EMTF_OnionTis true, with short sighted people with small minds.

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Drew Alan 5 years, 11 months ago

If the sirens are not sounded until after a tornado touches ground, it may be too late for some people.Sound the sirens when the weather service issues a tornado warning, as this indicates the highest level of local risk to the public. It seems to me with the recent prevalence of damaging straight line wind events, these sirens should not be called "tornado" sirens... but rather "storm sirens" or something of that nature. When the weather conditions are most dangerous that is when the weather service issues Tornado warnings. Even if 90% of the time these strorms did not produce TORNADOES they are producing damaging hail and winds and lightning strikes which are all risky situations to be in. It is in the best interest of the public to be informed of times when very strong storm conditions are present and the benefits of taking shelter outweigh the annoyance of getting out of bed at 3AM. Just ask the people of Greensborough, or the more recent victims in Oklahoma and Missouri.

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yankeelady 5 years, 11 months ago

When the NWS issues a warning, sound the sirens. And work on a system to only sound them in the affected area not the whole county. If the storm is headed toward Lecompton, Baldwin doesn't need the sirens to go off.

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rodentgirl16 5 years, 11 months ago

Or perhaps, in addition to the date being wrong, as noted by JerryStubbs, since the meetings are held at 8:00 am, they all but preclude anyone who actually works from attending. I would have liked to have gone, but I would have felt weird telling my boss that I was going to be late to work because I was going to this meeting. He doesn't live in Douglas County, I don't work in Douglas County, and I seriously doubt he would have much sympathy. People not showing up to an 8 am meeting doesn't NOT equal lack of public interest, it most likely indicates an inability to attend due to work or school.

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Andrew Stahmer 5 years, 11 months ago

You know I do remember one incident where the city sirens went off BEFORE the NWS issued a tornado warning-that was a few years back; and then I believe right around the 4th of July last year they just barely beat (or tied) NWS with the sirens....I think that one was just some rotation/lowering (I remember that last one because I was listening to the radio and they were urging people to get out and enjoy the fourth-30 seconds later I hear this wailing. After about one minute on the radio: "Get inside! A tornado warning has been issued!!"DCEM: is it worth all of this? Just hit the things if there is any kind of a decent chance of a tornado--NWS issued or not. Over a week later some people are still complaining-and they're not going away. The people have spoken!!

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Moderateguy 5 years, 11 months ago

I did purchase a new weather radio. Take the damn sirens down. You have already squandered any naively given public trust about sounding them. They're nothing more than ugly public art now. The sad truth is, the only thing I can count on my government to do is steal my money.

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JerryStubbs 5 years, 11 months ago

Here's a clue why more people didnt show up at last weeks meeting (I'm still not straight on which night it really was).This is the article annoucing it in the LJWORLD, and it says the meeting is 'Wednesday". The date of the article is MAY 8, which was Thursday.http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/may/08/county_wants_public_weigh_tornado_siren_activation/?city_local

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JerryStubbs 5 years, 11 months ago

I think they should automatically sound them if there is a geniune tornado WARNING just to make sure they are working (maybe the wind might knock one out).

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its_getting_warmer 5 years, 11 months ago

Hawk listens to those liberals on public radio stations?

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BigPrune 5 years, 11 months ago

"Even now there are people who pay no attention to the sirens whether they hear them or not," he said, from personal experience.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 5 years, 11 months ago

The county needs to get together with KANU and both be on the same side of the tornado. If KANU is getting information to take cover,from whom are they getting it?

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ksdivakat 5 years, 11 months ago

I will just say this: "But during last Thursday's emergency management committee meeting only two local residents showed up for a discussion despite advance publicity about the meeting."So one could assume that people were on here just to be fussing and didnt really care about sirens...typical from alot of these bloggers.Another thing to mention is the siren malfunctioning, this is why you cannot rely on the sirens, you have to take personal responsibility, the sirens can and do malfunction alot! Proof is saturday night, the siren sounded on Overland Park...but no tornado, and the flip side of this is that they tried to sound the sirens but they didnt go off.Please get a 30$ weather radio and keep you and your family safe.

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JerryStubbs 5 years, 11 months ago

THere are some strong arguments to default sound the sirens whenever their is an official tornado warning, and then more after that. If somebody gets hit in the head with a 2x4 they don't care what kind of wind tossed it.

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Confrontation 5 years, 11 months ago

"Even now there are people who pay no attention to the sirens whether they hear them or not," he said.Yeah, so lets not sound them and punish everyone for those who are too stupid to pay attention.

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macon47 5 years, 11 months ago

THEY NEED FLOOD SIRENS IN NORTH LAWRENCE

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 11 months ago

whenever a kind stranger donates a dollar or more to a homeless man is when the sirens should sound.

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