Tornado sirens sound in Illinois drill

Officials tested a new severe weather and emergency notification system in Naperville.
March 4, 2014 3:40:36 PM PST
For the first time since deadly tornadoes ripped through central Illinois in November 2013, the National Weather Service tested sirens as part of a statewide drill.

This is severe weather preparedness week in Illinois. Most towns regularly test their tornado sirens on the first Tuesday of the month. Today, Will County Emergency Management officials also tested their severe weather plans and equipment.

"The spring time to early summer, that's our prime time for severe weather threats. We can have severe weather any time of the year we had tornadoes in November, as you remember, but springtime is the prime season so we want to make sure we're ready to go ahead of that time," Harold Damron, Will County Emergency Management director, said.

Severe weather in the form of tornadoes, lightning, flash floods, damaging winds, and hail strike Illinois each spring, summer and fall. Last year, there were some 54 tornados recorded in Illinois with more than 2,000 homes damaged.

1st tornado sirens since deadly Washington, IL outbreak

Three tornadoes ripped through Will County in November, and for some children in those communities, Tuesday's sirens were the first heard since the deadly twisters hit. Seven people were killed in Washington, Illinois.

School Superintendent John Tignor says there were no reports of children getting upset when sirens sounded at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The district alerted parents about the drill and teachers have been talking to students about the sirens for several weeks.

Tignor says the school often sends students to a secure location during a drill, where they lay on the floor. But administrators decided that might be too traumatic for the students, who instead remained in class.

The tornado that hit Washington had winds that reached up to 190 mph. It was on the ground for more than 46 miles.

The National Weather Service is urging people to develop safety plan as early as possible.

West suburb tests "Naper Notify"

Officials tested a new severe weather and emergency notification system in Naperville.

In west suburban Naperville, officials tested Naper Notify. The new notification system alerts residents who signed up for the program and 53,000 publicly listed phone numbers about emergencies.

"It is important to know that something you want to use to contact your public in an emergency situation, that you do a test of it," Linda La Cloche said. La Cloche said residents must confirm they've received the alert on their phone or else it will continue to sound for an hour.

"I thought it was a great idea," Tom Port, Naperville resident, said. He got the alert on his land line phone.

Almost 5,000 residents registered for the alert. They can customize their notification to include community events and other notifications, as well as locations.

"If you opt in, you can say how you want to hear from us. They also can opt to receive a phone call, text message, email or a smart phone app meant for ," La Cloche said.

Naperville hopes to add another 100,000 people to Naper Notify's registry.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.


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