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MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC-TV) - Many Action News 5 viewers reported problems with sirens during Tuesday night's severe storms.
"We had a problem with one or two sirens that actually wouldn't go off, so we had to go in and get crews to manually disable them," said EMA Director Bob Nations. "Our suspicion is there may have been damage to these particular sirens."
Nations said just as a tornado warning was issued around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday for the Shelby County area, lightning struck the transmission tower that controls the outdoor warning sirens for the Shelby County Office of Preparedness.
Nations said the force of the storm disabled the system.
"That knocked out our repeater temporarily," said Nations. "It also knocked out Sheriff's Office communications and Shelby County Fire Department communications."
EMA crews had to use a backup generator to activate the sirens.
"We had to send crews out there to get the generators running," said Nations.
Nations said there are roughly 140 tornado sirens positioned across Shelby County. They are usually mounted on top of schools and fire stations. When they are working properly, sirens can help save lives by letting people know if they need to take cover where they are.
"The system is an older technology," said Nations. "Most of the time it works, but again, what do you do about a lightning strike?"