Of course, the news out of Portage and several other surrounding communities is tough to hear. Multiple homes, and businesses were damaged after at least one tornado cut through Portage, right down Centre Avenue, and then to the east of Three Rivers near Colon and Union City.

As more and more footage comes in from these storms - people recording the rain, hail, wind, and the tornadoes - one thing I'm noticing is a strange absence of something that is somewhat a "song of my people" back home in Kansas and Oklahoma... WHERE were the Tornado Sirens?

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Now I do know sirens in some affected areas were going off. People I know in the Portage area can confirm they heard some sirens while they were going to the movies at Celebration Cinemas. But seriously, of all the footage I've seen, now dozens of videos from people's homes and work, not one of them has any loud, blaring tornado sirens in the background.

What's even crazier is, where I live, on the east side of Kalamazoo, I had my windows and sliding door open to listen to the storm, and never ONCE heard a siren, even from neighboring communities.

So I got to work, investigating where the closest sirens, and noticed a strangely vacant area of the Kalamazoo area with NO active sirens.

Where are Kalamazoo and Portage's Sirens?

For the most part, Portage and Kalamazoo have plenty of sirens. This Google Map provides a pretty comprehensive look at all of the tornado siren locations in and around the area, including some inactive sirens.

Notice in the image below, Kalamazoo and Portage are covered well, but once you get into other suburb areas to the east and west, the sirens suddenly disappear.

Google maps/Michigan Tornado Sirens
Google maps/Michigan Tornado Sirens

Specifically, to the east, Comstock. Between Comstock proper, Comstock Northwest, and Comstock Township, there isn't a single listed active tornado siren. The closest ones to the west are in the Eastwood Community, and at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center.

But those are listed as "Inactive."

This means, if you are among the thousands of people who live in the hundreds of homes, and dozens of apartment complexes in the Comstock area, you likely wouldn't hear a siren at all if a tornado was inbound.

Maybe even worse, though, is if you live on the west side of Kalamazoo - specifically the western parts of Oshtemo, West Portage (west of Hwy-131), and in Texas Charter Township.

Google Maps
Google Maps

There aren't any tornado sirens listed in these heavily-populated communities, not even inactive ones. And to make matters worse, most tornadic storms will travel from west to east, typically southwest to northeast - meaning, if a tornado was to move into the Kalamazoo and Portage area, these places would be hit first, with no siren warnings.

Nowadays, most people have their smart devices - phones, TVs, watches, etc. But if you don't have a charger handy, and the power is out, one of the only lines of alerting you to danger are those sirens.

Full disclosure, I'm new to how Michigan handles community alert systems, and I'm still only aware of how things are handled from where I grew up. I would IMAGINE that the communities mentioned are responsible for providing the alert system, and their upkeep, rather than the City of Kalamazoo.

If that's the case, given the increased amount of tornado-producing storms that have made their way into Michigan in recent years, it might be time for these growing townships and villages to consider updating, or just straight up adding sirens to alert their citizens in the future.

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