After Devastating 2011 Tornado, Grand Lake Community Buys Siren

Thursday, March 20th 2014, 11:31 pm
By: News On 6

Severe weather season is right around the corner, and a Grand Lake community rocked by a tornado in 2011 is in its final push to raise money for a tornado siren. People in Cleora felt they didn't have enough warning once the power went out.

It's truly a grassroots effort. The Delaware County Emergency Manager said the county can't legally place a tornado siren in the neighborhood because it sits on private property, so the community rallied together to raise money for a siren.

It's been nearly three years since a small tornado ripped through the Cleora area on Grand Lake.

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"It was scary. It was scary. I'm from Missouri, and I had a basement there," said Cleora Tornado Fundraiser Chairman, Sherry Wolf.

It uprooted trees and boat docks in the middle of the lake, and left a community in ruins. Wolf remembers the destruction like it was yesterday.

"It was just one of those days when the air was really heavy and they kept telling us that something bad was coming, and about the same time Joplin got hit, we got hit," Wolf said.

Because the private property isn't part of the county, it's up to the community to supply a tornado siren. With the help of neighbors, like Jack Kenney, Wolf started raising the $30,000 needed for a siren.

"This is an area that's really good at coming together when someone's had a disaster," Wolf said.

That's exactly what they did. In the past three months, the community raised $27,403, about $2,100 shy of the goal.

"We have ordered our siren and the pole and when it comes in, we can pay for it, but we're a little short on the weather warn system, which will hook us up to the National Weather Service," said Wolf.

For Kenney, the trees are a constant reminder of the storm's strength.

"I've been through three tornadoes and two hurricanes, right in the middle of all of them at one time or another, and I know what they're like and they are no fun whatsoever. I've been blessed and lucky to have not been hurt in any of them," said Kenney.

The siren will be placed in one of the highest points in the neighborhood; letting people in a thousand homes hear its warning.

"If we save one life with this, it's more than worth it," Wolf said.

Wolf expects the siren to be up and running in about three weeks.