False tornado alarm caused by faulty phone lines in Lomira

Local authorities flooded with calls
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 19:21:38-04

Malfunctioning tornado sirens in the village of Lomira had residents flooding the police department with calls Monday night.

Authorities say the sirens have malfunctioned twice in the last two weeks, but the issue should be resolved.

"It's starting to get to that point the whole crying wolf thing," said Julia O'Brien, who lives in Lomira.

She says she heard the sirens go off Monday night but after the first malfunction, she didn't leave her house.

"I kind of figured it was a false alarm," she said. "But the first time, we actually had the kids packed up and we were headed to grandma's house (because) she's got a nicer basement than we have here."

According to the Village of Lomira Police Department, the sirens malfunctioned on May 5 and again Monday, caused by faulty phone lines, which the village does not maintain.

"It's a very old system and the wiring is very old," said Police Chief Chris Mireski. "Somehow there was a malfunction in the communication between the wiring and the sirens."

On both occasions, all six sirens in the village malfunctioned. Mireski says the phone company came out Monday night and Tuesday afternoon and assured him the problem is fixed

"As far as we know, everything should be functioning properly," Mireski said. "The test that again occurred today at noon went off without a hitch."

He said his department was flooded with calls from residents wondering what was going on and he asks that residents check the village website first and only call police with an emergency.

"So many people called when these two events were occurring, if something genuine was going on, our phone lines were literally jammed," Mireski said.

He estimates that the sirens are at least 40 years old.

Tornado sirens in Wisconsin are maintained by individual municipalities and not counties or the state, so cities and towns would have to pay for any replacements or repairs.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, tornado season typically runs from April to September with the most occurring in May, June and July.

The state averages about 20 tornadoes per year.

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