Faulty tornado siren a rude awakening for Portage residents on Sunday



PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — When a weather warning siren in Portage started going off last week, it was a real headache for nearby residents like David Hancock.

“It’s going around and boy, when that thing sounds that way, you wanna (cover your ears),” Hancock said. “It’s really loud!”

The now silent siren on W. Center Avenue between Moorsbridge Road and Cooley Drive started making an unexpected noise around 3:45 p.m. Thursday. It was unexpected in the middle of a snow storm.

“…I didn’t know what was going on. It was the main thing. And I checked with the local television news. (They) never mentioned it,” Hancock said. ” You do not know. It’s just that the unknown is what it really represents.

The Tornado Siren on W. Center Avenue between Moorsbridge Road and Cooley Drive in Portage. (Nov 21, 2022)

The siren is one of 16 in the city of Portage and can be triggered by Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch Authority dispatchers or Portage Department of Public Safety officers if a tornado is sighted.

Whoever went off was silenced by essentially pulling the plug, cutting off power to the siren on Thursday. But the problem was not solved. Someone forgot the backup battery.

At around 6 a.m. Sunday, the siren started rattling windows and nerves again.

“It makes sense. The part that doesn’t make sense is somebody didn’t realize there was a backup,” Hancock said with a chuckle.

A spokesperson sent News 8 a statement Monday afternoon saying the city still doesn’t know why the siren sounded on Thursday. Technicians from the company that maintains the sirens were expected on site Monday to solve the problem.

Sirens are tested on the first Saturday of each month to ensure they will sound when needed.

Hancock fears the recent misfires could create some sort of crying wolf situation.

“That’s why they have to spread the word, let people know. Otherwise, you just go with the flow,” Hancock said.

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