MARYVILLE, Mo. – The Maryville City Council received an introduction to warning siren protocol on Monday ahead of the inclement season.
Christy Forney, longtime director of emergency management for Nodaway County, led the council on when outdoor warning sirens are supposed to go off in severe weather and dispelled some common misconceptions.
It starts with who the sirens are intended for in the first place: people outside when the threat of a tornado is imminent, warning them to take cover.
“The storm siren is just a tool, and it’s that tool you use when you’re outdoors,” she said.
The sirens will be activated under one of two conditions: if a tornado is indicated on radar or when a trained storm spotter confirms a rotation or funnel.
If either of these two conditions is met, the sirens in the threatened area are activated to alert people outside.
Forney said the threatened area is determined by a combination of storm tracking and National Weather Service warning information.
“I know I have people who get upset sometimes when sirens go off and nothing happens, and they go, ‘Well, I was in my basement for 20 minutes and nothing happened. ‘passed’ – they’re angry because we sounded the sirens,” she said. noted. “And my answer is still, OK, so you were in your basement for 20 minutes, and you’re safe and your house is still standing. It’s 20 minutes of your life. I can’t force people to take these safety precautions, all we can do is educate.
Especially in areas like Missouri that experience significant severe weather each summer, tornado warnings can sometimes become so common that many residents ignore them, even when the sirens are sounding.
During the nation’s deadliest tornado in the past 75 years — the May 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri — officials found residents had been so unresponsive to warning sirens that the “the vast majority” did not take shelter when the sirens sounded. .
According to a federal report, some people thought a second siren was a clear signal, which is not common practice for most communities, including Joplin.
At Monday’s meeting, Forney said both of these issues are very real in Nodaway County as well.
“So I guess as an emergency manager I always want people to take this seriously,” Forney said. “And you know what? I hope the siren goes off, and I hope you go to the basement and I hope nothing ever happens. I mean, that’s the best outcome, right? Because we are going to have this type of weather just because of where we live.
Forney said she also gets questions about clear signals. When a siren sounds in Nodaway County, she says, it’s always to warn of impending danger — due to the confusion it could cause, no siren will ever give a clear signal.
“So we’ll never sound an all-clear siren,” she said.
Instead, once sheltered inside, people in the storm’s path should use other methods like TV, radio, weather apps, or NOAA weather radios to keep up to date. information about the storm.
NOAA weather radio receivers use a nationwide network that sends severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
Weather radios, Forney said, have come a long way from simple ones that more often cluttered up a long-forgotten spot in a drawer than served a vital purpose as bad weather approached. One of the problems that often led people to unplug radios was that they would go off with every alert, no matter how severe.
Now the latest generation incorporates Specific Area Message Coding (SAME). Radios with this feature allow users to configure the alerts they want to receive for specific geographic areas. While they should be fairly simple to set up, Forney said anyone looking for help with a weather radio can come to their office at the R. Keith Wood Public Safety Facility in Maryville to make sure they is correctly configured.
Locally, weather alerts are also available through Textcaster Alerts for the city of Maryville and all of Nodaway County. AT maryville.org/alerts, residents can select the types of alerts they want to receive via email or SMS. The service is provided by Northwest Cell free of charge to all county residents.
- Deputy City Manager Ryan Heiland said weather-dependent storm sewers and installation as part of the Southern Main Corridor Improvement Project are expected to be largely complete within the next three weeks. . Around mid-April, Heiland said, crews should begin edging work. The project remains well ahead of schedule after a productive winter.
- The board approved a new lease agreement with Brown Bread, LLC, the company that operates William Coy’s Farm to Table Restaurant in the Mozingo Lake Recreation Park Event Center. The original deal, which expires in April, was signed in 2018 for $2,500 per month plus utilities. The new, longer-term deal is for three years at the same price of $2,500 a month with three 5-year extension options that can be triggered by either party, according to city documents. However, for the first 25 months, Brown Bread will pay an additional $500 per month “to remedy a rent gap” that occurred under the company’s former owner, Michael Foust, who left the company and transferred ownership of Brown Bread to chef Mitchell Cosbey. in 2019. As with the previous rental agreement, William Coy’s will also continue to pay 2.375% sales tax even though it is outside the city limits.
- Board members approved the purchase of two Hustler Super Z FX1000 zero-turn mowers from Northwest Implement for up to $23,664. The mowers will be used at Mozingo to replace existing ones that are in poor condition. Heiland said the city had hoped to purchase new fairway mowers and lawn utility vehicles as well for this summer, but supply chain issues resulted in a 7-12 month delay for those units. Staff will tend to existing equipment in place until units are available.
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