Oklahoma town unable to warn of oncoming tornado because siren has been broken for years
Haileyville tornado damage (KJHR)

Two Oklahoma towns were unable to warn residents of the tornado that flattened dozens of buildings because their emergency sirens were not working.

Hartshorne officials discovered their siren wasn't working about two weeks before Tuesday's tornado hit, while neighboring Haileyville's siren hasn't worked in years, reported KJRH-TV.

The storm destroyed 22 homes and three businesses, three other businesses suffered major damage, and 37 homes received at least minor damage.

A 66-year-old woman suffered a leg injury that required hospitalization, but no one was killed.

First responders in Haileyville started sirens on their emergency vehicles and public address system hoping to warn residents, since the town can't afford to repair or replace the broken tornado siren.

“They had the ambulance out there trying to let people know this is serious," said Sylvia Jefferson, whose business was damaged by the tornado. "Take shelter and they did what they could, knowing that they didn’t have the siren."

Kevin Enloe, director of Pittsburg County Emergency Management, said recent efforts to repair Hartshorne's tornado siren proved unsuccessful, and he promised to help Haileyville try to get money to replace their long-broken siren.

“An immediate need that they need is a storm siren," Enloe said. "So that is identified in our Hazard Mitigation Plan, which now opens them up to pursue hazard mitigation grant money to put in a new siren."

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