Damaged sirens to be repaired for peak of spring

Two sirens damaged by lightning in Jefferson City will not operate for the statewide tornado drill, but will be running again by April.

Lightning hit two Jefferson City outdoor warning sirens in early October, putting them out of service for the last four months.

The two sirens were locate on opposite sides of town; one off of Highway 179 and West Main Street, and the other near the Ike Skelton Training Center on Militia Drive.

Cole County emergency manager Bill Farr said it was very unusual to see both sirens hit on the same day.

"They had not seen this in a long, long time. With all of the supports, the grounds, all the instrumentation that are put in there to keep that from happening did not work. It was bad enough that it literally burned holes through the top of one speaker," said Farr.

Replacing the sirens has not been a cheap task.

Since both sirens were within Jefferson City limits, the city's insurance will cover them at about $30,000 apiece for parts and repairs.

Farr said it's unlikely the sirens will be ready for the statewide tornado drill on March 4th, but residents shouldn't worry.

Cole county has 28 sirens, all of which have at least half a mile of overlap distance across the capital city. Farr said the terrain also plays a big role.

"The way of course Cole County is with the taller hills and the valleys that sound carries very far. So I've not have any problem thinking that we've had people without any kind of siren coverage," said Farr.

Overlapping sirens near the damaged ones include a siren near the Taos exit on Highway 50, and one near Capital Mall.

Barring any inclement weather, Farr said the sirens should be fullly operational by the end of March or early April.

Farr said he's confident those outdoors will be able to hear sirents clearly during testing and emergency events like severe weather, but recommends having another way to receive warnings if you're indoors.

Farr also said the county uses automated messages to warn specific areas of what type of danger they can expect.

For example, if a tornado warning is issued for only a section of Jefferson City or Cole County, emergency management can sound sirens in that specific location without activating all of the sirens in the county, which cuts down on confusion.

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