Watford City adds tornado, civil defense sirens to outdoor warning system

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A city in northwestern North Dakota has had its share of severe weather.

Now they are taking a proactive approach when it comes to warning residents about severe weather.

Some people might call this a mess, while other call it progress. Either way all this activity isn’t keeping people in their homes.

“We have a very active outdoor community,” says Arthur Walgren, Watford City Police Chief.

To keep their resident safe, Watford City added seven tornado and civil defense sirens.

“It’s designed as an outdoor warning system," says Walgren.

The total cost for the new sirens came in at around $180,000. Eighty percent of the cost was covered by the state Land Board Grant.

“Between our parks, the new event center and as well as the people that work outside. These are the people who primarily will benefit from this kind of a system," says Walgren.

It has been a little more than two years since Watford City faced a Tornado that destroyed 15 RVs and injured more than five people. In 2014, the city only had one warning sirens.

“That was kind of an indication that we need to do something to improve our warning system for our community," says Walgren.

“It’s something that is very needed in this community," says Karolin Jappe, McKenzie County Emergency Manager.

Personnel in and around the city learned how to use the sirens.

McKenzie County Emergency Manager Karolin Jappe says the county has the emergency alert system as they can notify residents by cell phone. But says having sirens in the community are well needed.

“People need to be prepared. You never know when something is going to happen. Preparation goes a long,” says Jappe.

It could be a difference of life or death.

These sirens will be tested as part of the National Weather Service's monthly testing on the first Wednesday of each month.