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Grundy looking to rewrite siren policy

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 9:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2014 11:53 a.m. CDT

MORRIS – Confusion and complaints from local residents regarding the lack of severe-weather sirens during the June 30 storms could prompt changes to the county’s siren policy.

“A lot of people had questions for County Board members, as well as myself, about why those sirens did not go off,” Grundy County Emergency Management Director Joe Schroeder said Wednesday during a local emergency planning committee meeting.

Exelon owns the sirens, but the company grants the county access to them during tornadoes or severe weather events. Exelon has the sirens to warn residents of any major chemical spills.

The alarms can be activated from the Emergency Operations Center at the county or from the county’s 911 dispatch center.

Grundy County’s policy stipulates the sirens be sounded only if a funnel cloud is sighted in the area by a trained weather spotter, Schroeder said.

Since spotters within the county did not locate a funnel cloud, the county never activated the sirens during last month’s destructive storms.

“Obviously, I’m reviewing a lot of policies, but this is one that was pushed to the top of the list after the storm hit,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said the county’s emergency management committee is working to rewrite the policy and intends to send every Grundy County resident a letter when the new policy is enacted.

Additional concern was voiced by members of the local emergency planning committee Wednesday.

Committee vice chairman Bob Joneson said he and other residents who live on the east side of Grundy County, including Goose Lake, can sometimes hear Will County’s sirens.

Recently, residents on the far east side of the county heard alarms sound long after a storm passed through Grundy County, Joneson said. Ultimately, he discovered the alarms were sounded by Will County, which spotted a funnel cloud in another part of that county.

“I see the storm system is gone, so I wondered why we were sounding the alarm,” Joneson said. “It’s very confusing for us on that east side of Morris. How can we know if it’s for Grundy or Will County?”

Schroeder said this problem happens often in parts of Minooka, especially, where residents can hear sirens from Kendall, Grundy and Will counties.

To eliminate confusion, Schroeder said to call the Grundy County dispatch center to confirm whether the sirens were sounded by Grundy County officials.

“I’ve had people in Minooka call me to say they hear sirens going off when there is nothing going on in Grundy County,” Schroeder said. “It’s a problem, and there’s no one, easy solution for it.”

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