Majority of Virginia's Tornado Sirens Failed Test

By KBJR News 1

August 1, 2012 Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 10:32 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - According to Virginia city officials, only two of the city's nine tornado sirens are in working order.

The Virginia Public Works Department tested the sirens Wednesday morning, finding that the majority of the sirens didn't sound.

"It's a day to day type of thing, because they're so old. If they worked on one test, they may not work the next week," said Virginia City Council member, Dr. Don Sipola.

Sipola says that part of the problem is that the sirens date back to the 1950's, so when they break it's nearly impossible to find the parts to fix them.

"We haven't heard it [the siren] within the last ten years," said Virginia resident, Derek Peterson of the siren near his home.

Peterson says the siren at the end of his block is almost always silent during monthly tests and never went off during the round of severe weather that threatened the area several weeks ago.

"I was outside and I heard another siren from one of the other town's nearby," he said.

The siren near Peterson's home isn't alone in its silence, several other residents say they haven't heard their sirens either.

"We have a siren right up the block from us and probably the last time it ran during a test was 15,16 years ago," said resident Tim Riordan.

Sipola says he's been working with other council members for years to get an updated siren system, but, like so many other cities, Virginia's funds are tight.

"We'll have to give up something in order to get something but I think this is an investment for in perhaps the next 50 years for the city, since the ones we're using now are almost 60 years old," he said.

The new plan would install four sirens throughout the city with larger projection capabilities than the current sirens. If the plan goes through, almost all of Virginia would be able to hear the sirens when they go off.
The plan is estimated to cost around $100,000.

Councilor Sipola says that the new sirens could be installed sooner than next year if the city decides to use money from next year's funds to pay for them.

In the meantime, according to city officials, the Virginia Public Works Department is working to get as many of the sirens up and running as possible. They hope to have eight sirens operational by Friday.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.