Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Most Joplin, Missouri residents ignored twister warning

MSNBC: "The vast majority of Joplin residents" did not respond to the first siren warning of the May 22 twister that killed 162 people because of a widespread disregard for tornado sirens, federal officials concluded in a report issued Tuesday. "This was a warned event," Kathryn Sullivan, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters, noting that several days before forecasters were warning of a strong possibility of twisters.

Officials didn't blame residents, many of whom complained that sirens often go off in Joplin for tests or even just when dark clouds form, and suggested that a "non-routine warning mechanism" be developed to make it clear when a siren should be taken seriously.

Keith Stammer, who heads the local county's emergency management agency, said the department issued two sets of sirens ahead of the tornado and that many people ignored the first siren. Some people thought a second siren was an all-clear signal, which it wasn't, he said. Stammer said he has never issued an "all-clear" during his 18 years in the department. "Honestly it was a bit of a disappointment that there were so many people who didn't move to shelter after the first warning," Stammer said. "The human side is the part that's most frustrating."...

In Joplin, Missouri on June 2, 2011, Chief Yeoman Mike Shea, assigned to the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780), helps a crane operator move a wrecked vehicle during tornado clean-up efforts (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Ryan Sullivan/Released)

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