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Siren Failed During Deadly Texas Tornado

Tornado damage - posted by City of Valley View, TX
Tornado damage | Image by Cooke County Emergency Management and Fire Marshal's Office/City of Valley View Facebook

An investigation revealed that a North Texas city hit by a deadly tornado on Saturday received no warning due to a siren malfunction.

Valley View was in the path of an EF-3 tornado on the night of May 25, resulting in seven deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The Valley View Fire Department (VVFD) announced in a social media post on Wednesday that firefighters had been monitoring the situation when the city and other parts of southwestern Cooke County were put under a tornado warning.

VVFD readied the outdoor warning siren when news of a possible tornado southwest of the city came in.

“Upon activation of the siren, it malfunctioned and did not set off an audible alert. Crews were unable to immediately rectify the issue and abandoned the siren,” the post read.

With the siren determined to be inoperable, the department took to social media, advising residents to take shelter immediately. Per VVFD, the National Weather Service had already issued warnings and sent alerts for Valley View and areas to the south.

Valley View uses a Thunderbolt Air warning system that must be set off manually.

“This unit is mounted on a 25-foot pole on the southeast side of the square, in the city limits of Valley View,” VVFD’s social media post read. “It is very loud, however, it is not meant to be heard indoors. It is not designed to reach outside of the city limits.”

The siren can allegedly be heard best at approximately half a mile away, limiting its ability to serve as a warning system for the areas that experienced the brunt of the tornado some three miles away.

According to the VVFD, the siren is owned and maintained by the City of Valley View and is supposed to be tested monthly. However, due to inclement weather, it has not been tested in the last two months.

“The City of Valley View recently renovated the building that power is drawn from for the siren system. It was found yesterday that there was a wiring issue where the power is drawn from the building. This has since been fixed and the siren is in service at this time,” the post read.

VVFD received praise from some social media users for its transparency.

“Our Fire Department and emergency services for our town is top notch for the funds they receive!!! We are lucky to have the experience we have to do this free of charge! Remember that,” Amber Sandmann commented on the post.

Though many comments were positive, some people voiced anger that the siren was not working that fatal night.

“People died and this siren could have helped save lives. An outdoor siren is basic public safety and it failed. The fact that this is the only siren in VV is a joke and then consider this taxpayer funded siren didn’t work when it was needed most and the excuse is hadn’t been tested in TWO months due to weather is completely unacceptable,” Michael Cook commented.

As covered previously by The Dallas Express, Gov. Greg Abbott visited Valley View the day after the tornado and praised the response in terms of helping those in need.

“It has been a harrowing week with lives lost, property reduced to rubble, and crushed hopes and dreams of those that owned homes or small businesses, but in true Texas fashion, Texans are responding to this great tragedy with love, care, and generosity,” Abbott said.

“We have seen heroism from first responders, volunteer fire departments, law enforcement, and those that may never be known.”

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