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Faulty part blamed for city's siren malfunction

A malfunctioning electrical component is to blame for the absence of storm sirens in the opening minutes of a tornado warning Saturday, according to Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg.

A malfunctioning electrical component is to blame for the absence of storm sirens in the opening minutes of a tornado warning Saturday, according to Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg.

The part -- called a "universal power supply" -- is "like a really expensive surge protector and power unit," said Overweg. The part, worth about $500, has been replaced.

The city's storm warning system includes seven sirens and is activated when Davison County is under a tornado warning. The system was successfully tested last week.

Overweg said the reason for the malfunction isn't yet known.

"For some reason, this thing went out. Whether it was lightning or power surge or whatever," he said. "I don't know if we'll ever know. We may have (the manufacturer) look at it."

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Weather sirens are located near the West End Boat Dock, Mitchell Middle School, Northridge Park, Jennewein Park, Hitchcock Park, the corner of Cabela Drive and Spruce and the amphitheater on Indian Village Road.

Representatives from Federal Warning Systems, which sold the system to the city, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Originally handled by the Davison County Department of Emergency Management, the responsibility to activate the sirens was reassigned to the Mitchell Police Division approximately three years ago, according to Emergency Management Director Jim Montgomery.

After realizing the malfunction Saturday, the Public Safety Department alerted local media about the siren delay. Public Safety employees soon obtained a replacement part from a local vendor.

According to Overweg, the department had the device fixed 10 minutes after the initial discovery.

Montgomery said he will be talking to residents to find out if all of the sirens were activated after the device was repaired.

"I need to find out what sirens didn't go off," he said. "I'm going to canvas my neighborhood."

Overweg said the malfunction highlights the need for residents to rely on other sources, such as local media and weather radios.

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"That's why we stress to people to make sure you have a weather radio," he said. "(The malfunction) could happen to anybody who's got one of their systems."

"We were able to overcome (this) very quickly, but that doesn't mean next time it couldn't be something else."

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