Archive for Thursday, May 30, 2013

40 years ago: New sirens installed, ready for testing

May 30, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 30, 1973:

  • The new disaster siren warning system in Lawrence had been installed and was scheduled for testing. A two-second blast on the 10 sirens was slated for some time today, with a longer test to occur later. In all there were 15 sirens in the Douglas County warning system, including two at Kansas University and one each at Baldwin, Lecompton, and Eudora. The entire system had cost $57,000 and had been paid for with matching county and federal funds.
  • Susan Cherniss had been hired this week as the new director of Volunteers In Court. The organization, affiliated with the Douglas County Juvenile Court, provided "special attention for problem juveniles on a 'big-brother, big-sister' basis," according to an article in today's Journal-World. The program was financed with federal funds provided by the Governor's Committee on Criminal Administration. Cherniss, whose salary was listed as $600 a month, was to replace Pam Parker, who had resigned to work as a parole agent in another state. Cherniss was to be responsible for training and recruiting volunteers for the program, making funding applications, and doing public relations work.


Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 8 months ago

So they spent all that money and then tested the disaster warning system in 1973, huh? Too bad it didn't work on June 19, 1981, when Lawrence was hit by a devastating tornado. The damage was tremendous, 30-year-old Stan Pittman was killed inside the K-Mart store, and large portions of the Gaslight Village mobile home park were just about leveled.

And the tornado warning sirens sounded only about 30 seconds before the tornado hit portions of Lawrence. I never heard them at all.

For me, that particular tornado is rather personal because I was a passenger in a Chevrolet Vega traveling west on 31st Street, and then we turned north on Louisiana, as it was passing over Lawrence. So, we were just about directly, or possibly directly, underneath the tornado. I could expound at length upon the experience, but to shorten it, I knew exactly what was happening, it was very frightening, and we had no place to go. If a warning siren had sounded, we would never have gotten in the car, instead we would have gone to our designated safety zone in the King Radio plant.

After that, there was quite a shakeup, Doppler radar came into use, and the warning systems were significantly upgraded. So, there's not much danger of a tornado hitting Lawrence again without the warning sirens sounding long before it strikes.

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