BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — Warning sirens failed to sound until more than 30 minutes after the first of two tornadoes touched down Saturday night in Beech Grove, residents told News 8.
The emergency alert system worked Friday morning during a weekly test, according to employees at Fire Station 57, which houses one of the county’s tornado sirens.
“We hear it every week,” said David Schimmel, a Beech Grove resident whose family lives less than half a mile from the Churchman Avenue fire station. “It’d be nice to actually be able to hear the sound when we need it.”
Residents say sirens went off more than 30 minutes after tornado hit Beech Grove
Schimmel had just left Walmart when he noticed a funnel cloud approaching his neighborhood in southeastern Beech Grove.
He rushed home to his fiancée and infant daughter, and watched as the powerful storm made landfall, he told News 8.
“I literally watched the funnel cloud go through the high school, through our subdivision and then toward Alro Steel,” Schimmel said. “About 30 [to] 45 minutes after the fact is when we did finally hear that siren.”
Advance warning would have allowed him time to secure his home and relocate his family, he added.
His home has no basement; Schimmel said he attempted to shield his daughter from flying debris with a mattress because they had no time to shelter in another location.
“The fact that we didn’t get notified with such a young child inside is kind of upsetting,” he said.
A fire department employee who declined to be identified also noted the delayed siren.
It sounded “well after” the first tornado touched down, the employee said.
Tornado siren delays can be the result of computer issues, human error and other challenges caused by fast-moving weather systems, according to dispatchers in other counties.
Outdoor sirens in Beech Grove are operated by Marion County’s Emergency Management Agency. Officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from News 8.