Storm Siren In St. Jacob Failed To Go Off

By Stephanie Malench

[email protected]

On Saturday, March 27 at a little after 7:00 p.m. a tornado touched down on the northeast side of St. Jacob off Marine Rd. Unfortunately, the community had no warning because the tornado sirens in St. Jacob did not go off. The EF1 tornado caused property damage, but there were no known injuries. The siren is supposed to be activated whenever the Troy siren is activated, but was reported to have not been set off early enough according to a post on the official Village of St. Jacob Facebook Page St. Jacob Pride.

The failure on Saturday night for the warning to be issued could have also been a result of human error or mismanagement.

Residents expressed outrage on social media about the sirens not working when there can be no margin of error and every second counts.

In a message on the community Facebook pages St. Jacob Pride and Out & About in St. Jacob, IL, Sunday morning, Village Trustee Jamie Runion, Chair of the Health and Community said the incident was being investigated and a call had been placed to the Troy police supervisor on call Saturday night. St. Jacob’s sirens were tested twice on Monday by the Troy police and were working.

Mayor Richard Schiefer reported on March 30 that he was still waiting to hear from Village Attorney James Craney, but that Troy set off the St. Jacob sirens at the same time that they set theirs off.

Schiefer said “everything went the way it was supposed to, people just didn’t hear them”.

“I don’t set them off. We’re not there at the Village Hall 24/7. I don’t know why everyone is so upset” Schiefer said in response to the outrage on Facebook.

He added that Troy said the sirens are not meant to be heard inside and that is why residents need to install the Code Red app on their cell phones.

Many people who had the Code Red System on their cell phone or were inside near a radio, television, or computer were able to take cover. Unfortunately, not everyone has a cell phone to have Code Red, especially older adults.

Among those who were outside were a 7-year-old child and a farmer plowing his field. Both knew to listen for the siren to know when danger was approaching, but never heard the siren.

Due to significant concerns that a single link of activation from the Troy Police Dispatcher could fail, the Village of St. Jacob implemented a redundant process in 2006 to activate the early warning system. This redundant process was controlled by administrators in the Village government. The system served as an extra layer of preparedness in the event Troy did not activate the siren Staff in charge of the siren were trained by the Illinois Emergency Management Association on how to track a storm.

The system was a phone number that ten employees had access to that would activate the siren with the touch of a single button. The hierarchy of administrators that could sound the alarm were the mayor, the police chief or officer on duty, the public works director, then the village clerk.

Each department had a weather radio which could be taken home with the on-call staff after hours. Once the notice was received on the radio from the weather bureau that St. Jacob was in the storm track, the staff in those departments that controlled the program would set off the siren working their way down the chain of command from the top until someone was available. Most of the time it was set off by then mayor Raymond Muñiz.

Because it was accessible by cell phone, the siren could be sounded from anywhere without having to go to the Village Hall. The weather radio/app was monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The early warning system would sometimes be set off as early as 30 minutes in advance if St. Jacob was mentioned as a possible hit and served as an extra layer of protection in the event the Troy siren did not go off in time, as was the case this past Saturday. The siren was also sounded a second time when the National Weather Service gave the all clear. The siren is currently located by the Mill Pond, just south of Highway 40 and Douglas St. According to one resident “I’d rather have an early warning that when it’s too late.”

The highly effective process was put into place for the safety of the community, but was abandoned in 2013 when current mayor Schiefer took office.

Larry Morietta, Police Chief of St. Jacob for 38 years said in the 11 years the system was in place under the early warning system was activated at least 12 times and worked very well. Morietta said that Saturday the warning “should have been sounded. It was bad here”.

24 Comments

  1. Anonymous on April 1, 2021 at 7:48 am

    What benefits would a person have for becoming a Mayor of St. Jacob? Seems like they get a lot of bashing for something that they are not even responsible for.

  2. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    Muñiz is only running again for his own gain. Guy is just slimy starting all this crap on FB. What a joke for this town. All he cares about is making a name for himself. If you couldn’t see or hear the storm coming, the multiple alerts from code red, the NWS alerts and calls, then wtf was the siren going to do? It’s only supposed to alert those outside. Look out your freaking windows and pay attention to your surroundings!

  3. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    This is alarming (pun intended). Its okay to say, “I don’t know why the siren didn’t sound but I will do my best to find that answer”. It is not okay to tell constituents to rely on Cide Red AFTER tge fact and certainly not okay to make minimizing statements to constituents (“I don’t know everyone is so upset”). The biggest qurstion is: Why was the old system abandoned? Surely there must be some other efficient fail safe in place besides reliance on Troy’s sirens?

    • Anonymous on April 1, 2021 at 3:42 pm

      First of all, Whatever Stephanie quoted in this article that the Mayor said is suspect given that she is obviously a Muniz supporter. She probably misquoted what Schiefer said so that she could build up Muniz.
      Secondly, I doubt that the technology was available in 2006 to do what she claims Muniz says he had in place.
      Stephanie should be ashamed of herself. Fake News.

  4. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Do some research. Sirens are only designed to warn those outside, not indoors. They are old technology that most cities are moving away from because they are unreliable. Learn to take care of yourself.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 4:37 pm

      I’ll need a refund of my taxes then. I’ve never lived anywhere where I was responsible for my own safety, but if thats the case get the jack boots tf out too.

  5. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 9:13 am

    The Troy Police Department has confirmed they activated it the same time they did theirs. A malfunction may have occurred. All the references to the past mayor’s program are unnecessary. This article is an obvious attempt to smear Mayor Schaefer by those who support Ray Muniz.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 12:48 pm

      Actually, no. The article is about public safety. I very much doubt Stephanie Malench has an agenda.

      • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 1:08 pm

        No, I’m pretty sure she does. Obvious smear campaign.

        • Anonymous on April 1, 2021 at 1:15 am

          You must know editor Malench fairly well. Please elaborate to the rest of us why she’d write a hit piece on the current mayor.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      You are the one making this political. I have never supported Muñiz. But Mayor Schiefer has lost my support and respect as well. If Troy pressed the button and the siren failed then say it failed. Take ownership you are the Mayor don’t try to push it to someone else like Code Red. I have it and I had only seconds to react before the storm hit. I have my doubts the siren failed because it worked countless times the next day. But if everything was done correctly say it failed and that you will take all steps to make sure it doesn’t fail again.

      The Mayor didn’t do that. Instead he said that it worked and that we did not hear it. He just contradicted the official position. So what is the answer did it work or not. You can’t tell me everyone missed hearing it. That is just wrong and he is insulting my intelligence.

      Then his comment that he “doesn’t see why everyone is so upset” this is arrogant and disturbing how out of touch can you be to not understand why people are upset. We expect our elected officials put us first and ensure that our basic safety comes first. Then we expect clear honest answers.

      These are my issues. Just because it is election time does not mean we don’t deserve honest answers. Do we sweep this aside just because one side is feeling the pressure so close to an election. No

      • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 2:11 pm

        I believe the Mayor was saying that he was told by the Troy PD that they activated the siren. Unless they are lying, it must have malfunctioned. Those sirens are only meant to warn people who are outside anyway. I’m sure they are checking into the incident and will correct whatever they have to. Mayor Schiefer has done a great job for this town.

  6. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 9:05 am

    The storm siren is checked on a regular basis and has always worked properly. No one knows what happened this time causing it to malfunction, but is is no individuals fault. The Troy Police Department confirmed that the St Jacob siren was activated. Don’t try to make this a political issue so close to the mayor’s election.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      Mother Nature does not form tornados for one candidates political advantage.

  7. Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 2:58 am

    Living within a block of the siren I can say with 99.9% certainty it did not sound. I wasn’t paying close attention to the weather Saturday evening and didn’t take cover ’till hail started pelting my front window. An early warning would have been nice. And my cell isn’t on me 24/7 so “code-red” is not an option. On a side note, I am curious as to whatever happened to monthly testing of the siren? Although I do believe a test was performed a month or two ago, regular tests on the first Tuesday of each month have virtually been abandoned. I know for fact the siren isn’t tested because I work nights and the test would wake me up at 10:00am (or was it 10:30am?) every first Tuesday of the month. I haven’t awoken on test day for the past eight years now. Puzzling to me as to why the fail-safe practice of having the mayor or village employee set off the siren was eliminated. Would seem like a no-brainer when all else fails. It’s like the early days of the 9-1-1 system in St. Jacob. If there was ever a problem, you always had Foxy Krotz there with phone in hand to sound the tones and dispatch the fire department. Relying on anyone outside of the village to sound the emergency weather siren is flat out dumb. We’re living in the year 2021. Embrace technology.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 11:48 am

      You need to be more aware of your surroundings and the weather when you have your child outside. Tornado sirens are a thing of the past.

  8. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    The 7 year old child outside playing was mine, I’m pretty sure because I made it very clear to everyone in St. Jacob on every post I could! If the current mayor didn’t see it, I know the former Mayor did! I know for a fact that siren didn’t go off during nor in the middle of the night that night. My ears work pretty good, and I could always hear it from inside my house, I live just next door from where I lived with my parents, I’ve lived in St. Jacob for 25 years now. And could always hear it when the old policy was in order! I for one am not happy that I had to SCREAM for my daughter to get inside the house to come and take shelter, our trampoline came off the ground and flew into our flag pole 2 minutes later!!! Thank you for your “new policy” that doesn’t work, Rich! As for “code red” I also have opinions on that as well, do they really think EVERYONE IN TOWN IS ON THEIR PHONE OR ELECTRONICS AT ALL TIMES???!!! I encourage my children to go out and play. Ray the former mayor would have made sure proper precautions were taken before, during and after this storm! I will not remain anonymous, my name is Ariel! Thanks.

    • Anonymous on March 31, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      Really, you had to scream for your daughter?…. Guess you are one of those parents that encourages their child to go out and play, but doesn’t check back on them. That storm took a long time to get here. If you were checking in on your kid you wouldn’t have had to scream. Is it Richard’s fault that the storm was that strong? I think not. And all the weather channels were predicting strong, damaging late afternoon storms. I suggest you be more aware of where your child is at when she is outside.

  9. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    The sirens have always been heard during a storm and high winds, either system works. KMOV Channel 4 stated that St. Jacob was in the line of the tornado, then that’s was it, went to regular programming!

  10. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 1:33 pm

    Bold faced lie. It wasn’t even the middle of the night. We can hear it fine when it goes off even over trains and previous storms including tornadoes. I was listening INTENTLY for that siren as were my children. No. Why lie instead of taking accountability and offering to find a solution (that was already dismantled)? This is what we should expect in a potentially life threatening situation? Scary

  11. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    There was a lot of lightening before the tornado hit. Who would be outside during lightening?
    Code Red is not an app. It is actually what lots of communities are using. You should never depend on one single option either.

  12. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    The former Mayor Muñiz had an excellent system in place just for this. Why is Mayor Schaefer lying about the sirens going off when they didn’t! This puts peoples lives in danger. My basketball pole and board were blown on my car and a bicycle sitting on the windshield.

  13. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    For what it’s worth, the siren in Troy on 40 by Casey’s did go off before the storm had made it to St. Jacob.

    The response by the village, plus the changes in procedure, is not surprising. Alerting residents is part of the job responsibilities, not directing them to get an app.

  14. Anonymous on March 30, 2021 at 11:54 am

    “I don’t know why everyone is so upset”
    What a hot take…..

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