City Of Joplin Spends Thousands To Improve Tornado Warnings

Tuesday, May 22nd 2012, 10:07 pm
By: News On 6

In the wake of the Joplin tornado, many steps have been taken to improve weather warnings. It's as much about the warnings as it is the way people react to them.

Joplin Tornado Timeline

Residents of Joplin are still on edge about severe weather.

"Just about any time we have a threat of any sort of severe weather, people start calling, and they want to know what it's going to be like, and what do they need to do, and how do they need to prepare for this," Keith Stammer, Emergency Management Director, said.

Communicating the warnings through sirens, television and urgent language over weather radios is vital, but Stammer explains, that's only one side of the warning process.

"The second side is the human side where people have to actually receive the warning, understand it, believe it, personalize it, decide to act, and act appropriately, and that seems to be where the delay is," Stammer said.

Tornado Safety Tips

Joplin residents complained of hearing sirens too often, whether for testing or for warnings that were never verified. Now, the city of Joplin is combating the "Cry Wolf Syndrome" head-on.

"We're spending about $200,000 of our own money to upgrade our sirens with 2-way radios so we can do silent testing," Stammer said. "When that happens, we're going to only test audibly our sirens the first Monday of each month. From that point on, we're telling people if you hear the sirens go off, and it's not Monday morning, the first Monday morning of the month at 10 o'clock, you need to go hide."

And individual advanced planning is critical. Know where you're going to go and have an emergency kit ready. It could save your life.