After tornado destroyed town last year, Smithville residents on alert for severe weather

SMITHVILLE, Mo. - As severe weather swept across the area Friday, residents in one metro town were a bit more nervous than most -- especially because one of their sirens isn't working. 

“We’re a little hyper-vigilant because of last year," Smithville Police Chief Jason Lockridge said. "When we had to sound the sirens in March, the whole community was really paying attention and actually did take it very seriously."

Thirteen months after a devastating EF-2 tornado ripped through Smithville, destroying many homes and businesses, the threat of severe weather on Friday the 13th had many keeping an eye to the sky.

“It makes me a little anxious,” Smithville resident Stephanie Fray said.

“I just get nervous because I’ve seen the destruction and things. You hope it doesn't hit anybody's house,” she said.

Smithville police officers and emergency managers warned residents to prepare for severe weather.

“We want to remind people to stay up-to-date with their smartphones, your cell phones and monitor the television sets, particularly as the weather moves in. That is the up-to-date most-current information, and we want everybody to have that in case there’s a warning issued or somebody needs to seek shelter,” Lockridge said.

They're also warning people not to rely solely on the outdoor warning sirens.

“We had some sirens that weren’t responding and that were damaged. We had a repair company out two weeks ago. All of them but one are up and running,” Lockridge said.

The non-working siren is on Tillman Road North of 144th Street.

“I’m concerned about that for people that don’t actually watch the TV or are outside mowing,” Fray said.

Lockridge said they’re waiting on a part to come in that’s needed to get the siren back online. In the meantime, the city’s got a backup plan to keep residents safe during emergency severe weather situations.

“There is a plan in place to notify those in that area if a warning is issued," Lockridge said. "Officers will drive through that area with the sirens in their cars sounding on a different tone to notify residents in that area. The remaining 10 sirens are working properly and that will cover the other 95 percent of the city."