Multiple tornado sirens not working in Smithville

When tornado sirens went off Wednesday night in Oak Grove, residents went to what they thought was a community shelter. Instead, they found the doors locked. (KCTV5)

When tornado sirens went off Wednesday night in Oak Grove, residents went to what they thought was a community shelter. Instead, they found the doors locked.

Last year, Oak Grove was devastated after a tornado touched down. By chance, the local performing arts center, which doubles as a storm shelter for students, was available.

"There was a concert in progress, and as people started to leave the concert, the tornado warning was sounded and the sirens started to sound. And people turned around and went back in for shelter, knowing that it was a certified tornado shelter," said Mark Sherwood, with Oak Grove Emergency Management.

But Tuesday night, that wasn’t the case. The shelter, which can fit 2,000 people, was closed.

Sherwood says volunteers staff the facility and since it was never open that day, it was locked.

"We've never been able to get a big enough pool of volunteers where I was confident that we could staff -- open and staff that shelter without fail at any time," Sherwood said.

Currently, Sherwood says he has six or seven volunteers, but until he feels safe with the numbers, he advises people continue to use their basements as a way to stay safe should another serious storm come through.

Sherwood says they hope to get more volunteers, at least 10, so they’ll be able to safely operate the facility as a shelter.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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