Shelby Police Chief takes responsibility for not activating tornado sirens soon enough

Tornado Damage in Richland County

RICHLAND COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - There was widespread weather damage across Northeast Ohio over the weekend and Shelby was hit the hardest.

The population of less than 10,000 near Mansfield was shaken by a tornado Sunday afternoon.

Six people sustained injuries in the storm, and many homes and businesses were damaged.

Severe weather causes widespread storm damage throughout Northeast Ohio, multiple people hospitalized

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 4:39 p.m. that was in effect until 5:30 p.m., but Shelby Police say they didn’t receive a specific notification.

Noon: Shelby Tornado Eyewitness

The tornado was first reported at 4:49 p.m.

Lance Combs, the Shelby Police Chief took responsibility for not taking action soon enough.

Lance Combs, Shelby Police Chief (Source: WOIO)
Lance Combs, Shelby Police Chief (Source: WOIO)
“It is my understanding that there have been some discussions regarding the tornado sirens and their activation. If there are problems, they fall on my shoulders. The police department activates those sirens for the city of Shelby. We normally receive specific alerts and warnings for northern Richland County and that is when we typically activate the sirens. The alert we received today was general to Richland County and not specific to the Shelby area. Within a very short time, the department received a report of an active tornado near or on SR39 and the working supervisor activated the alert sirens. That did occur before the tornado caused the damage across 39. If the sirens were not activated soon enough, I take the blame. What we have tried to do is monthly testing with notification and been judicious in their use to avoid people ignoring the sirens when there is an immediate threat. We will be reviewing that procedure and examining whether we need to make additional adjustments.”
Lance Coms, Shelby Police Chief

The Department sent out a message to civilians via Facebook late Sunday night.

Just a quick note to address the storm that came through Shelby earlier today.... we have not received confirmation from...

Posted by Shelby Ohio Police Department on Sunday, April 14, 2019

Here is drone footage showing the aftermath of the tornado from Rocket Chevrolet in Shelby.

Route 39 is currently closed, they expect to have Mansfield Avenue reopened by 9 a.m. Monday.

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