The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 18, 2013

Back-to-back siren warnings prompt calls to city authorities

JOPLIN, Mo. — For some, the sounding of back-to-back siren warnings early Thursday was eerily reminiscent of the back-to-back sirens heard on May 22, 2011, when one of the worst tornadoes in U.S. history ripped across Joplin.

But this time, only half of the city heard both warnings.

For the first time with Thursday’s severe thunderstorms, the city used a new feature it acquired when it upgraded its storm siren system last year. The city now can warn half of the city at a time.

“We have the South Zone and the North Zone,” said Keith Stammer, head of emergency management for Joplin and Jasper County.

“Last night, we warned the South Zone first and then the whole city.”

People who were unaware that the city had siren zones called the city to alert it to the fact that only half of the city’s sirens were functioning.

“People got on the phone in one part of the town where the sirens were going off and talked to people in another part of town where the sirens were not going off,” Stammer said. “The people where the sirens were not going off called to let us know their sirens were not working.”

The dividing line for the zones is 15th Street.

The sirens were sounded in response to National Weather Service reports of possible tornadic storms in the area.

The first siren activation was at 1:28 a.m. Thursday for the south side of the city after officials received a weather service report of a tornadic storm in northern Newton County. The storm had tracked from Grove, Okla., where three houses were destroyed by rotating winds.

“You frequently see rotating winds on radar in storms, but this was showing a debris ball in the air,” Stammer said. “That heightened everyone’s concern when that storm moved into Newton County.”

The sirens were activated again at 1:43 a.m. when a segment of the storm from Grove expanded and appeared to be tornadic near the Iron Gates area on the west side of Joplin. In that instance, all of the city’s sirens were sounded.

Having warning zones within a city is an emerging trend, Stammer said.

In Baxter Springs, Kan., and Webb City, residents took shelter in substantial buildings that were opened to the public.

In Baxter Springs, a woman said she woke up her three daughters after hearing sirens and drove to a church that had been designated as a shelter, only to find its doors locked and people waiting outside in the rain. The woman returned to home.

Sgt. Rex Qualls, with the Baxter Springs Police Department, said: “By the time they got the church open, there were people standing there. The key holder to the church had not had enough time to get there yet.

“You might think the key holder is across the street, but they could be across town.”

Qualls said he talked with the pastor of the church, who said it had been opened by the time the pastor arrived there. The basement of the First Assembly of God is the only shelter available to the public in Baxter Springs, Qualls said.

At Webb City, police said 30 people sought shelter in the Webb City Public Library after it was opened by police. The Webb City Police Department is about two blocks from the library.

Sue Oliveira, director of the library, said: “We have been doing this for several years where the police come and open it up, especially in the middle of the night.

“In the old days, I would do it. But that wasn’t practical. When the storm alarms go off now, they (police) have the keys to the building and they can let people in during the hours the library is closed.

“The Police Department is two blocks from here. They are much closer than I am. Driving through a serious storm is not part of my training.”

Oliveira said the library was not designed to be a storm shelter, but it is “one of the safest buildings in town. We are glad that it is available to people.”

Officials with police and sheriff departments in Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas said they had received no reports of significant property damage Thursday morning.

A spokesman for the National Weather Service forecast office in Springfield said it had not received any reports of damage, but that some low-lying roads were closed to traffic because of flooding.

A spokesman for the Delaware County (Okla.) Sheriff’s Department said tornado-like winds hit an area south of Grove, where three houses were destroyed. Several people suffered minor injuries. The storm downed tree limbs and caused widespread power outages.

A spokeswoman for Empire District Electric Co., based in Joplin, said about 1,900 customers in its Kansas and Oklahoma service areas were without electrical power for a period after the storms.

Rain gauge

THE JOPLIN REGIONAL AIRPORT logged 1.41 inches of rain in connection with the storms.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Ruling modifies gas rates; MGE says bills to remain the about same

    An agreement to settle a Missouri Gas Energy rate change will modify the company’s various rates, but the net bill to consumers will remain largely the same, according to statements released Thursday by the gas company and the state’s utility regulatory agency.

    April 24, 2014

  • Railroad conducts training session; law enforcement officers work on crossing enforcement

    Joplin police and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers trained Thursday and will continue today on railroad crossing safety with Kansas City Southern Railway Co. The annual event, called “Officer on a Train,” puts law enforcement officers in the locomotive cab to give them a real-time view of how motorists and pedestrians approach train crossings through the city. The event began Thursday morning on tracks crossing Fourth Street near Murphy Boulevard.

    April 24, 2014

  • East Newton High student designated semifinalist in Presidential Scholars Program

    An East Newton High School student is among eight Missouri students who have been named semifinalists in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program for their outstanding academic achievement. George Bennion, a senior from Stark City, said he was “super excited” when he was notified of his selection as a semifinalist.

    April 24, 2014

  • 042314 Rec funding Build a Lion_72.jpg Missouri Southern students to vote on new fee, going smoke-free

    Students at Missouri Southern State University will vote next week on whether they support creating a fee that would fund athletic and recreation projects. During the annual student senate-sponsored spring election, students also will be asked whether they support a completely tobacco-free campus.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • New Kansas gun law draws support, some reservations

    At John’s Sports Center in Pittsburg on Thursday, firearms manager Adam Gariglietti said he supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to sign a bill that will ensure it is legal across the state to openly carry firearms. But, he offered some words of caution. “It’s great that he signed the bill,” Gariglietti said. “But at the same time, common sense goes a long way.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Baxter Springs chili feed to raise money for family of girl facing surgery

    On a Sunday morning in February, 9-year-old Izzy Morris woke up her mother complaining of a headache. Teresa Morris gave her daughter medicine. But an hour later, the headache had worsened. “She was in a lot of pain and started screaming and yelling uncontrollably,” Morris said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Carthage budget committee hears proposal for water, sewer rate increases

    The proposed budget for the Carthage Water & Electric Plant, including increases in water and wastewater rates, dominated discussions Thursday night as the Carthage Budget Ways and Means Committee continued its review of proposed city budgets for the fiscal year starting July 1.

    April 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Self-driving cars mean not having to teach teens to drive

    I may be wasting my time trying to teach my 16-year-old daughter, Emma, how to drive.
    According to The Washington Post, self-driving cars are on the way. What used to be a dream of bored engineers has now become something that certain car companies are taking seriously.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • World Tai Chi Day to be celebrated on Saturday

    At least two communities in the area will be celebrating World Tai Chi Day Saturday with outdoor events at area parks.

    April 24, 2014

  • Groundbreaking set for MSSU residence hall complex

    A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, April 28, for the new residence hall complex at Missouri Southern State University.

    April 24, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

What’s your favorite tree?

A. Maple
B. Oak
C. Dogwood
D. Redbud
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter