APPLETON, Wis. - Months before severe storms hit the Fox Valley and caused $31 million in damages earlier this month, 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.
Hansel also told supervisors the system was at risk of failure because it had only one repeater, which amplifies communications so they can travel over a longer distance.
The storms knocked out power to about 60,000 We Energies customers, including both Appleton hospitals. An internal memo from the Outagamie County Sheriff's Office stated sirens should have been sounded shortly after the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning Aug. 7.
The Public Safety Committee has recommended disciplinary actions for Emergency Management Director Julie Loeffelholz for not sounding the alarm and members of the sheriff's department for not properly maintaining the communications tower.
On Monday, 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.
Hansel resigned his county position in July, according to Post-Crescent Media.
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