Small towns implement back-up plans for severe weather

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The power went out right before a tornado ripped through Burke Tuesday night, and the tornado sirens didn't go off because the sirens aren't on back-up batteries.

There are plenty of small towns across South Dakota that are at the same risk as Burke.

In a state with devastating severe storms that can develop quickly, it is important that small communities are ready in the event disaster strikes.

The community of Baltic has taken measures to prepare for when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

The community has its emergency siren on a back-up battery system.

"In the event that the electricity would go out, the siren then reverts to those batteries to make sure the siren is activated," Baltic City Administrator, Mike Wendland, said.

Wendland says the alarm system is tested the first Saturday of every month.

Sometime having these safety measure isn't enough.

"What it comes down to is the people need to have multiple ways to receive warning information. They can't solely rely on the outdoor warning siren, or a weather radio, or their cell phone," Chief Meteorologist of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, Todd Heitkamp, said.

For some small communities, it can be hard to budget for every situation.

"Those dollars to get those generators and stuff, it can be expensive," said Wendland.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety says sometimes leftover funds become available, and small towns can apply to receive this money to help alleviate the financial burden.

If you would like to volunteer in the cleanup efforts, you can call the Burke Financial Office at 605-775-2913.