Tornado siren broken as Smithville braces for storm season - KCTV5 News

Tornado siren broken as Smithville braces for storm season

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Smithville is missing a piece of its emergency warning system as storm season approaches. (KCTV5) Smithville is missing a piece of its emergency warning system as storm season approaches. (KCTV5)
SMITHVILLE, MO (KCTV) -

A small town is missing a piece of its emergency warning system as storm season approaches. 

When emergency management officials in Smithville tested the town's 11 tornado sirens earlier this spring, they found three that did not work.

Police Chief Jason Lockridge said the city purchased the sirens more than 10 years ago. He said the city has replaced sirens before, usually no more than one every spring.

Harsh winter weather and exposure to the elements can take its toll on sirens. Lockridge believes this may have played a factor.

In one siren, they found a bird's nest.

"That's a first for us," Lockridge said.

City contractors fixed two of the sirens on site in March. Lockridge said the last siren near 144th Street and Tillman Road needed a new circuit board. The city ordered it weeks ago but still waiting on the part.

Lockridge called the situation "a little nerve-wracking."

"We're coming up on severe weather season," he said. "And we're also coming on the heels of last year's tornado."

The EF-2 tornado that touched down in Smithville in March 2017 damaged dozens of homes, including Wendy Miller's on the north end of town. 

Miller told KCTV5 News at the time that her hands wouldn't stop shaking the morning after the tornado. A contractor told her she would probably have to tear down and rebuild her home.

"I wouldn't want anyone else to go through this," she said.

One year later, her house still stands.

"I'm starting to feel like I can relax again," she told KCTV5 when a camera crew visited her house again. 

Miller and her neighbors still think about the night the storm swept through their neighborhood. Many remembered the listening to the train-like whistle of the tornado or the debris hitting their window.

KC Mayne said he will be watching the weather closely this year.

"People should take the weather forecast seriously," he said. "Don't wait until the last minute."

Tornado sirens played a vital role in alerting Smithville residents last year. As the city waits on a missing part for the last siren, police plan to alert residents another way. 

Lockridge said the city will dispatch officers to the area near 144th Street and Tillman Road, blasting their squad car sirens.

"That's how we used to do it before we had sirens," he said.

Lockridge added that Smithville's existing sirens are only outdoor horns that are not designed to penetrate the walls of a home.

He expects the new circuit board for the broken siren sometime in early May. 

The horns near Miller's home are working properly. She hopes the town's last siren will be fixed soon.

"We need to get them in place before [another storm] hits," she said.

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