Archive for Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Shouts and murmurs

It was a dark and stormy night

May 26, 2004

Monday's storm disrupted several meetings. At a special school board meeting, firefighters came in shortly after 7:30 to warn of a report of a tornado on the ground near Topeka heading this way.

The school board, which was meeting in executive session at the time, quickly wrapped up discussions and adjourned the meeting. And at the regularly scheduled city council meeting, proceedings were cut short because of the storm. At Tonganoxie Junior High School students celebrating in an end-of-the year- Hawaiian dance were moved to a storm shelter.

About 10 minutes after the school board meeting ended, I was back at home. And for the first time since moving to the country nearly four years ago, I realized that storm sirens can't be heard in our neighborhood.

As the skies turned eerily green, sudden winds flattened the nearby field of brome and rain blew in from the south, an emergency worker (on the police scanner) told the county to sound its sirens.

We had our shelter in the basement ready to run to, but I checked outside first. And listened for the tornado alert. No siren could be heard.

We learned yesterday morning that the nearest tornado siren, for those of us living in the vicinity of County Road 25 and Douglas Road, is in Tonganoxie -- some six miles away.

On a clear day, that might be within earshot -- barely.

But add wind, rain and thunder, along with the ever present hum of traffic on the nearby Interstate 70, and a tornado siren -- at least in that part of the county -- is nonexistent.

Perhaps the county has plans to eventually install a siren in that part of the county. And perhaps there are other areas of the county where no storm siren can be heard.

But until that's taken care of, according to Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County's director of emergency management, the best precaution would be to buy a weather alert radio.

I think that's what we'll do. Soon. This week likely.

With the glut of tornadoes that have touched down in the Midwest this spring, it would be the cautious thing to do.

And with families to protect, it's the right thing to do.

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