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No Sirens At Lake Poinsett During Storm

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In most South Dakota towns when severe weather is on your door step a piercing horn reminds you to seek shelter. But, places that aren't quite considered cities, like the shores of Lake Poinsett, there are no such warning systems.


Even before a storm that killed one person in Hamlin County this past Friday, groups around the lake have been trying to secure funding for a warning system.


Lake Poinsett was filled with people, not trying to cool off on this summer day; they're looking for parts of their docks and boats. While the sounds of heavy machinery lifting boats and trees fill the air, there was one sound that was absent on June 21st, when winds whipped across the lake destroying homes, a storm siren.


“It's important that we keep the visitors and the homeowners safe around here,” said Dan Sterhagen, the director of Lake Poinsett Park.    


Two organizations are looking to change that, Game Fish and Parks and the Lake Poinsett area development association.


“If you would have been outside when that happened you would have been dead. So, the fact that we could get people into cover, we absolutely need to have the sirens,” said PJ Turner, the director of the Lake Poinsett Area Development Association.    


While there were no sirens for the storm that hit Lake Poinsett on Friday, some believe a storm siren wouldn't have helped the person who was killed.  


“In terms of the fatality? No. Those folks were asked to go to a storm cellar and they chose to ride it out,” said Turner.  


“The number one thing that people need to understand is that an outdoor warning system, they're not meant to warn people inside homes,” added Sterhagen.


Where Lake Poinsett is located also comes into play. Sitting in two counties, getting cash to fund four $20,000 sirens is a challenge.


“Lake Poinsett is not a city. It's not incorporated. It straddles two counties. So, it's difficult. We don't qualify for most of the grants,” said Turner.  


“Parks and Recreation division is looking into Homeland Security money to provide funding for these sirens,” said Sterhagen.  


As snorkelers keep looking for their submerged docks, others along the lake look for money. Hoping the next time a storm rolls through, there will be a better warning.

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