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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Siren false alarm a concern on several levels

  • Last week you ran an article about tornado sirens going off by mistake.
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  • To the editor:
    Last week you ran an article about tornado sirens going off by mistake. You quoted a Mr. Chuck Magaha who is the Director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management. These sirens went off at approximately 8:15 on Monday morning, March 11, by accident, according to Mr. Magaha, who is responsible for managing that agency.
    Let me say this about this incident. First of all my wife, Doreen Greczyn was substituting at Warren Middle School that day. She was in the building at the time the sirens went off. She and her students never heard the sirens. Let me say that again. They never heard the sirens. Nobody reacted to any tornado warning at this school because they did not hear it. Had there been an actual tornado, and had it passed through the area of Warren Middle School, they would not have heard it, and it is highly likely that many people would have been killed and injured, just as there were in Joplin and in Greenburg, Kansas.
    On the other hand, I work on Fort Leavenworth, and I heard the sirens, and was preparing to react, but immediately was notified that this was a false alarm.
    Mr. Magaha you are derelict in your duties on two accounts. First of all, the alarm, as you stated, should have never happened. It caused people to waste time. I personally wasted time because I was at work and stopped what I was doing, wondering whether I was supposed to go into our tornado area in the basement, until we got the message that this was a false alarm.
    But second, and most importantly, your alarms are not situated where people can hear them. Certainly Warren Middle School did not hear them. Either that, or all 41 of them did not go off. Have you ran a test on these alarms? Do they all work? Have you surveyed the residents as to how many have responded to the alarm system? Are these alarms located near the areas of greatest population density where most people can hear them. I do not believe that you have done so.
    To me, it is unconscionable that these alarms cannot be heard by people in a school, where there is a high population density. You are not discharging your duties with respect to the taxpayers in this county.
    My initial thoughts are that you, Mr. Magaha, need to resign because of the complacency you have shown in your job. However, I am willing to listen, as I am sure the other taxpayers in the county are, to your actions that you intend to take to prevent this community from becoming a Joplin. As a minimum you need to test and reposition all systems so that they are near the places where there are high population densities – to wit, schools, shopping areas and the like. You need to start this process immediately, before we get into the middle of tornado season. I personally will not feel that myself, my family and my fellow citizens in this community will be safe until you have done so.
    Page 2 of 2 - If you need to contact your superiors with respect to the need to do the above, please do so immediately. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
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