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UPDATE: Emergency management worker warned of failed siren

UPDATED Wednesday, August 21, 2013 --- 11:12 a.m.

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) -- Months before severe storms hit the Fox Valley and caused $31 million in damages, an emergency management official warned Outagamie County supervisors the county's weather warning system was at risk.

Outagamie County Emergency Management Deputy Director Steve Hansel told members of the Public Safety Committee in February that the county could not sound its sirens if the backup generator for the warning tower failed. The backup generator had been disconnected before the storm hit Aug. 6-7 while a gas system was installed and had not been reconnected.

Emergency Management Director Julie Loeffelholz said she could not have sounded sirens alerting residents to the storm because power was lost at the communications tower.

Post-Crescent Media says Hansel resigned his county position in July.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, August 19, 2013 --- 7:40 p.m.

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) -- The emergency services director of Outagamie County says she could not have sounded the sirens when storms hit the Fox Valley this month.

Director of Emergency Services Julie Loeffelholz released a letter to the news media Monday. In the letter, Loeffelholz says she could not have sounded sirens alerting residents to the storm because power was lost at the communications tower that controls the alert system.

She also said she has not been questioned about her actions that night by the county's Public Safety Committee. The committee met in closed session Friday and recommended that County Executive Tom Nelson discipline Loeffelholz.

Post-Crescent Media reports Nelson says he'll convene an independent panel to review the county's reaction to the storms.

The storm caused $31 million in damage in Outagamie County.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Sunday, August 18, 2013 --- 5:52 p.m.

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) -- An internal memo says Outagamie County emergency personnel had ample time and reason to sound the sirens when storms tore through the Fox Valley this month, and broke county policy by failing to do so.

Public Safety Committee Chairman James Duncan released a sheriff's department timeline Sunday following news reports detailing problems with the response to the Aug. 6-7 storm.

County policy states that if an officer witnesses a tornado or strong winds, the sirens are to be activated.

Duncan tells Post-Crescent Media the damage reports coming into the 911 center were a clear indication to activate the sirens.

His committee recommended Friday that the county's emergency management director be disciplined and possibly fired.

No one was killed, but the storm wreaked $31 million in damage in Outagamie County.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013--- 9:27 p.m.

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) -- Several Outagamie County officials could be disciplined or even fired for failing to sound emergency sirens in advance of last week's violent storms.

A Post-Crescent Media report says the county's public safety committee met in closed session Friday for about 90 minutes.

The committee emerged to recommend that Emergency Management Director Julie Loeffelholz be disciplined or fired for not sounding the alarm. Loeffelholz declined to comment.

The Aug. 7 storm knocked out power to about 60,000 customers, leveled a church in New London and took down trees and traffic signals across northeast Wisconsin.

The committee also found fault with the sheriff's department for failing to maintain the county's main public safety communication tower in Black Creek. The sheriff did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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