SHELBY, Ohio — Officials in Shelby held a news conference Monday to update the public following Sunday's destructive tornado. Mayor Steven Schag, Utility Director John Ensman, Project Coordinator Joe Gies and representatives from Shelby fire and police spoke on cleanup efforts.
There were at least six injuries from the tornado, which had a 17-mile-long path and was up to half a mile wide, the NWS confirmed. The tornado swept through Richland County at about 4:42 p.m. Sunday.
Police Chief Lance Combs addressed the department's siren activation procedure. Combs said the siren procedure was previously handled by the fire department, but because of staffing issues, the police department took it over.
"Typically when we get a warning, our policy is if we know it’s for northern Richland County, we activate the sirens. We have to be careful if we get a general alert because we don’t want to notify people in Shelby about a tornado happening 40-50 miles away," Combs said. "We have a weather radio with a large antennae so it’s coded and we do get an alert when there is a tornado in the Shelby area. That alert was late after we got the general warning in Richland County. Our people checked the weather radar and everything looked like it was north of us and we appeared to be in the clear. We were waiting to push that button and confer with the fire department, then we got a report of a funnel cloud heading towards 39. Once that supervisor got a report of the funnel cloud we activated the sirens."
The tornado was rated EF-2 with maximum wind speeds of 120 to 125 mph.
"We are fortunate that where that tornado hit and where it went through, time of day, place, etc, that if it was a half mile north we would’ve had residential neighborhoods and retirement communities devastated, so if there is a silver lining, that's it. This is what we do and for whatever reason, Shelby seems to be a natural disaster magnet, so we are kind of getting used it," Combs said.
In the coming days, damage assessment teams will meet with residents in Shelby to assess damage done to homes and other structures. Teams will assess how affected the structure is and what kind of help residents need.
The Red Cross did open a shelter Sunday night, but officials said no one came to the shelter in place. The shelter will be on stand-by for residents that may need it.
Mayor Schag said the city of Shelby has received help from surrounding cities to provide help in any way they can.
"In times like these, when the worst of things happen, you see the best in people," he said.
Watch the full news conference below: