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Tornado Drill Serves as Practice for Emergency Officials

Thursday's statewide tornado drill came with some unexpected issues
Emergency Alert Sirens sounded across the state Thursday afternoon at 1:45, but in the Village of Kimberly, the siren remained silent.

        "We had some successes, and we also had some things that we need to work on," says Outagamie County Emergency Management Director Julie Loeffelholz.

Loeffelholz made the decision to manually deploy the sirens, after the word 'test' caused problems with with command center computers.

        "We took the initiative - albeit a few minutes late - and set the sirens off through the compulert system where we literally turn the key and push the button and it sounds all sirens in all communities."

Out in the field, storm spotters were checking sirens. The command center computer system said the Kimberly siren was operational, but spotters found out otherwise.

        "We want the ground truth," says Storm Spotter Jon Kreski. "Physical verification that its actually functional. We try to get them all covered in the springtime before the rough weather sets in."

Kreski was stationed at the Freedom siren, which officials believe was struck by lightning during severe weather last August. This afternoon, it was again working. Kreski says its key to have every single siren up and running.

        "As a severe storm spotter, if we do see some severe weather and we turn in a report, we want to make sure that the sirens are operational," he says.

A second test came at 6:45, after crews had repaired the Kimberly siren. This time, it worked just fine

        "That's the benefit of doing this exercise and training," says Loeffelholz. "Is the fact that we're getting a chance to get the bugs worked out before we actually see severe weather."

During both tests, the sirens sounded about 7 minutes later than they should have. Officials say that was due to the manual nature of today's test, and that in an actual emergency, the sirens would be able to be deployed immediately.
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