As legend goes, Chief Sarcoxie, Rising Sun of the Turtle Band of the Delaware Indian Tribe, settled here because it was protected from tornadoes. True or not, today only a small unoccupied part of the City actually sits on the original site - leaving the bulk of the City exposed to the risk of tornadoes.
Tornadoes can occur any hour and day of the year. The time of highest risk in the year is from late spring to early summer. The time of highest risk in the day is between 3 PM and 9 PM.
A tornado WATCH means conditions are right for a tornado to occur and usually covers a very broad area.
A tornado WARNING means there is likely a tornado present and is usually in a very specific area or path.
Storm Siren Activation
Storm sirens are designed to be a warning system for people who are outdoors. They are not designed to reach in to buildings or to wake you up in the middle of the night.
The city has 3 storm sirens that will activate if:
The NWS issues a Tornado Warning, OR a trained spotter reports a tornado In Jasper, Newton, or Lawrence Counties and the tornado path includes the City of Sarcoxie; OR
The NWS reports a storm system producing wind speeds of 75 MPH or greater and the storm path includes the City of Sarcoxie.
Storm Sirens are a warning of last resort! The City will try to activate sirens when the danger is 15 minutes away. Unfortunately conditions change and things happen resulting in sirens sounding when the danger is as much as 30 minutes away or right over the city (zero warning). Only 1 siren has battery backup so, if the power goes out you may not hear a siren at all. For these reasons, you need to take charge of your personal safety and not wait for the sirens to sound.
When sirens are activated they will run for 3 minutes then shut off. If possible, they will be activated every 3 minutes until the danger has passed. There is no all clear siren signal.
When the sirens go off, it is too late to do anything other than shelter in place.
The Most Important Resource
YOU are the most important resource for protecting you and your family! Agencies and organizations will try to help as much as possible but when all is said and done, the decisions and actions you take will give you the best chance of protection in dangerous weather.
Public Storm Shelters
There are 2 FEMA certified shelters located in the city – one at Wildwood Elementary and one at Sarcoxie High School. These shelters are staffed during tornado watches and the doors are opened during tornado warnings.
Please note that pets are not allowed in the FEMA shelters. If that is going to be a problem you need to plan on a different course of action.
Emergency Services Response
When there is an elevated risk for dangerous wind or storm events, police, fire, sentinels, school district and the city government go in to a heightened state of readiness. City Hall opens up as an Emergency Operation Center (EOC), establishes direct communications with the Jasper County 911 Center and supervises siren activation. The Fire Department can activate storm spotters and fleet disbursal as conditions warrant.
There are lots of sources of information on tornadoes, personal protection, and emergency plans if you want to know more including:
American Red Cross
Missouri Storm Aware
State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
National Weather Service
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. (NOAA)
What's Your Plan?
Most folks plan to "shelter in place" if a tornado strikes. If so, make sure you know exactly where you want to go (i.e. basement, shelter, bathroom, or an interior closet) AND what you want to take with you. Don't wait until the storm is here to grab a flashlight, some blankets, or a book to read to your kids - have them with you or already there.
Some folks plan on going to a friend's house or basement or simply to try to get out of the path of the approaching storms. If this is your plan then plan on getting there before the danger arrives. You don't want to be in a vehicle when the storm hits. How much time will you need to get loaded up and get there? What and who do you plan on taking with you? Do you need to take any medicine? Does the car have enough gas? Do you need to take bedding? All of this and more should already be thought out and ready before a storm.
If you plan on doing more than sheltering in place, do not wait for the storm sirens to activate before starting. If you don't get going quickly enough, your back up plan should be to shelter in place.
When the City Suffers Storm Damage
It is going to happen someday. When it does, emergency services and city government will be doing everything in their power to protect life and property. Here are some things to expect:
There will initially be a lot of confusion.
The first priority will be search and rescue. We will need help determining if people are unaccounted for.
The City has limited resources so will coordinate and seek assistance from local residents and businesses, Jasper County Emergency Management and other local agencies.
The City will provide public information through the above listed Radio and TV stations and at a designated location in the City.
The City will need and accept volunteers and establish a location for volunteers to check in and be assigned tasks.
Access to the city and damaged parts of the city will be restricted. We won’t put up with sightseers, looters or anyone interfering with rescue and recovery operations or who don’t respect a victim’s rights for and privacy.