Raising Money For Tornado Sirens
Auxvasse is one town that's trying to get a siren of its own.
The city of Auxvasse hosted a Railroad Day last month hoping to raise money for tornado sirens. The event included many activities for kids and of course, train rides for both kids and adults. Officials had organized the event after rail car enthusiasts offered free rides to residents.
"It's good track, and it's very beautiful on down ahead of us here," said Mel Beaver, a rail car operator. "It's just some nice country to travel through."
City officials thought this was the perfect opportunity to raise money for new sirens.
"We're getting a siren that's going to cover 90 percent of the city, and hopefully by next spring, we'll have it up and running," said Auxvasse Mayor Shawn Baita.
The only siren is a World War II-era air-raid signal, but it's been out of commission for years. Now, the Auxvasse fire department drives through the streets with sirens on as the only indication of severe weather.
Another city gave Auxvasse three sirens, but parts were missing. Officials say they need between $8,000 and $12,000 to install just one siren.
Callaway County ranks 14th among the state's 114 counties for tornado touchdowns since 1950. The county has seen 27 tornadoes in those 56 years.
Auxvasse has been in the path of severe weather in the past.
In March 2006, Auxvasse didn't see a tornado, just a close call.
"We've had one that was on the southwest side of town that lifted up and touched down on the other side northeast of town," said Baita. "Then I looked out my backdoor, and you could see it set back down over toward Shamrock."
Missouri averages 26 tornadoes per year. Those tornadoes are responsible for an average of three deaths and 46 injuries per year.
State Emergency Management Agency officials say the cost of sirens must be paid by cities and counties themselves. Callaway County currently has 23 sirens in place.
"It's been close, but everybody says they go around," said Baita.
With Railroad Day, Auxvasse officials hope to get on the track toward preparedness, just in case.
Railroad Day in Auxvasse didn't raise as much money as officials had hoped. They say they broke even on event costs but very little, if any, was raised for the new sirens.
Mayor Baita says the town is discussing using a low interest government loan to get at least one siren installed before next spring.
Auxvasse hopes to make Railroad Day an annual event.