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Robby Ellison, addresses the Board of Alderman on June 6 in concerning the city’s dangerous weather plan.

Recently, the increased storms and precipitation has caused an alarming request of information on the city’s plan for dangerous weather. Robby Ellison, addressed the Board of Alderman on June 6, stating, “I have received numerous calls wanting to know the protocols on how the tornado sirens are set off, where the storm shelters are located and why people can’t hear them inside their houses.” The council informed Ellison a Public Safety meeting had been scheduled for June 12 at 5:30 p.m. and invited Ellison to attend.

Administrator Jackie Pangborn stated, “The sirens are located at the public pool, South Border Street and Stoddard Street.”

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The emergency siren located on Stoddard Street.

Fire Chief Rich Enochs explained, “The sirens are not designed for residents to be able to hear inside their houses. The sirens are for people outdoors.” When a tornado siren is sounded the alarm will sound for three minutes non-stop. If a second siren is heard, this does not mean the weather is clear. There is no all clear siren.  

There are four storm shelters located in Monroe City. The shelters are located at City Hall, the Holy Rosary Church Basement, the Baptist Church and the Christian Church. Enochs explained, “The Monroe City Fire Department is responsible for opening up the storm shelters.” The sirens are set off per protocol when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning impacting Monroe City. Sirens may also be set off if the Monroe County Sheriff, Monroe City Police Chief or Monroe City Fire Chief spot a tornado.

Enochs shared, “Currently Hunnewell does not have any tornado storm shelters. I am working on getting a storm shelter established for Hunnewell.” The sirens in Hunnewell are set off by the Shelbyville dispatch.

Roughly 1,000 tornadoes per year are reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tornadoes are intense, violent storms that feature a column of air that extends from a thunderstorm cloud to the ground.

Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world. However, the United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country. According to Verisk’s Property Claim Service, tornadoes accounted for 39.9 percent of insured catastrophe losses from 1997 to 2016, and the average annual loss on these severe storms was $11.23 billion.

Tornadoes, although impressive to watch, are volatile storms with great power. They have the capability to flip cars, destroy buildings and send deadly debris flying into the air. Intense winds can reach more than 200 miles per hour.

The Department of Homeland Security notes that there are many things people can do to keep themselves safe from tornadoes before, during and after these storms.

Establish a safe room in your home, which can be a basement or a cellar. In rooms with no below-ground levels, the safest place is a small, interior room on the lowest level away from windows and doors.

Sign up for emergency alert warning systems that cater to your area so you know well in advance if a tornado is coming. Practice what to do in the event of a tornado so the entire family knows what to do if disaster strikes. Keep tornado readiness supplies handy. These include clean water, batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, and packaged, nonperishable foods.

If a tornado warning is issued, move indoors into a safe location for the duration of the tornado. Tornadoes blow through quite quickly so timing is of the essence. If you cannot get to shelter, lay down flat in a low-lying area. Do not go under a highway overpass or attempt to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.

Take additional precautions by shielding your head and neck with your arms or putting furniture and blankets around you to protect against debris. Keep small children and pets close by and protect them as best as possible. Strapping an infant into a vehicle safety seat may be a good safety measure.

After the tornado has passed, assess the situation for safety after the tornado has moved through. Watch for downed electrical lines and check for the smell of gas. Do not turn on any appliances or switches if you detect the aroma of gas.

Do not try to move anyone who seems seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger. Call and wait for help if needed. It may take time for emergency personnel to reach you.

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