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Differing tornado siren policies raise questions at the Lake of the Ozarks

(KY3)
Published: May. 2, 2019 at 4:21 PM CDT
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The questions started in the Lake Area Happenings Facebook group. A post from an Osage Beach resident said the tornado sirens were going off in the city Tuesday night.

Just about 20 minutes later, another post. This time a Camdenton resident posted in the group, asking if the city's sirens had failed. He didn't hear them going off.

Neither Camdenton nor Osage Beach was included in a tornado warning, but one of them turned on their tornado siren.

"We can request them to be activated, and they will if we request it," Ron Gentry, Executive Director of the Camden County Emergency Management Agency told

KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek.

The EMA doesn't have the authority to actually sound the alarm, that's up to each individual city.

But, Gentry says he follow's the City of Camdenton's policy.

Camdenton will sound it's tornado sirens only if any part of the city is included in the warning.

"If the polygon touches any part of the municipality, we will request activation if they haven't already done it," Gentry said of his agency's policy. "But, 99.9% of the time, they will have already activated it.

The only city in a tornado warning in Camden County Tuesday night was Stoutland. It's in the southeastern portion of the county. It's almost 25 miles from Camdenton - not close enough for the city to sound the alarm.

But, it's almost 40 miles from Osage Beach. They did activate the tornado sirens.

"If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for Camden or Miller County, we activate the tornado sirens, regardless of where it's at," said. Lt. Mike O'Day of the Osage Beach Police Department.

O'Day says the city is actually looking at possibly changing their policy.

"Recently, there's been talks of moving forward and looking at ideas of if the tornado is closer to us, activate it versus - that one was so far away - not activating sirens and putting people in a panic," O'Day said.

Gentry, though, says it's always better to be prepared, with or without the sirens going off.

"The storm was heavy enough that people should have taken precaution anyway," Gentry said.

Havranek

asked Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Launderville about their policy. Launderville says theirs is the same as Osage Beach. They also activated their sirens Tuesday night.

The EMA says it's important to note, these sirens aren't meant to be heard inside homes so it's important to have weather radios, in addition to TV, for these important warnings.

You're also encouraged to download the KY3 and KSPR Storm Team apps.