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1802 Hill Avenue
Suite B103
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
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About Emergency Management

Emergency Management is a coordinated effort, involving local, state, and federal government agencies as well as volunteer organizations and businesses. Within an integrated emergency management framework, these entities assist citizens and their communities to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and eliminate or reduce the effects of natural, man-made, civil, and technological emergencies and disasters.

Iowa Code states that each county shall form an Emergency Management Commission and that the commission shall consist of a member of the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff or the Sheriff's representative, and the mayor or the mayor's representative from each city within the county. The commission members are the operations liaison officers between their jurisdiction and the commission.

Further, Iowa Code states that the Commission shall appoint a Coordinator. The coordinator oversees the day-to-day activities of the office and fulfills the planning, training and exercise requirements outlined in Iowa Code. Despite the name of the office being "Dickinson County Emergency Management", the Coordinator reports directly to the Emergency Management Commission, and not to the Board of Supervisors. Per Iowa code section 29C, the Emergency Management Commission is a municipality, as defined by code section 670.1.

Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission Members

Jurisdiction Representative
City of Arnolds Park Police Chief Al Krueger
City of Lake Park Mayor John Engel
City of Milford Councilman Don Olsen
City of Okoboji Councilman Jim Delperdang
City of Orleans Mayor Carlton Mitchell
City of Spirit Lake Councilman Jerry Harbst
City of Superior Mayor Everett Houge
City of Terril Mayor Tim Fairchild
City of Wahpeton Mayor Frank Joenks
City of West Okoboji City Administrator Ed Rice
Dickinson County Board of Supervisors Supervisor David Gottsche
Dickinson County Sheriff Sheriff Greg Baloun

Find the EM Office

The Dickinson County Emergency Management Office is located in the basement of the Dickinson County Courthouse. You can use the elevator or stairs near the west entrance of the Courthouse to access the office.

The Courthouse is located at the intersection of Hill Avenue and Hwy 9/71 (18th Street).

NOAA Weather Radio

Dickinson County is served by a NWR transmitter located west of Milford. Broadcasting on 162.550 MHz, this station covers all of Dickinson County as well as northern Clay County, western Emmet and Palo Alto Counties and southern Jackson County, Minnesota. This station alerts for warnings in Dickinson, Osceola, Clay, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties in Iowa as well as Jackson and Nobles Counties in Minnesota.

Many local electronics stores carry NOAA Weather Radios as do many online retailers. Most radios range in price from $25 to $50. Be sure to look for a radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.). This feature allows you to program your county code into the radio. This will eliminate receiving alerts that don't affect you. The county code for Dickinson County is 019059 (these are zeros, not O's). Click here to find codes for other counties in the United States.

For more information, visit the national NOAA Weather Radio website at

Local Hazards

Severe Thunderstorms

On average, there are from 40 to 50 days each year that we deal with thunderstorms in Dickinson County. Some of these turn severe, containing winds over 57 miles per hour and/or hail that is one inch in size or larger. Whether severe or not, all thunderstorms contain lightning and that is very dangerous, just by itself. In July of 2010, extremely strong winds struck portions of Dickinson County. A wind gust to 96 miles per hour was recorded west of Spirit Lake.

For more on thunderstorms: Learn how they work


A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. Each year, several tornadoes touch down in Iowa, most are weak EF0 or EF1 and produce minor damage to trees and structures. Occasionally, we see devastating EF5 tornadoes, producing winds over 200 miles per hour. Tornadoes this size can obliterate homes, just as we saw in 2008 in Parkersburg, Iowa.

For more on tornadoes: Learn how they work

Floods & Flash Floods

Flooding occurs regularly in Dickinson County, especially along the Little Sioux River. Flooding, here, is usually contained to surrounding fields and pastures. Occasionally, the river will rise to the point of closing a few local gravel roads.

Occasionally, periods of heavy rains can cause street flooding in our area. Rain falls so fast that storm drains can't keep up and the street floods. Never attempt to drive through a flooded street.

For more on floods: Learn how they work

Winter Weather

Residents of northwest Iowa know that the winter months can be long, cold and snowy. Winter storms can be fierce with high winds, heavy snow, and bitterly cold wind chills. Being prepared for these storms is critical. Winter storms can rage for several hours or even for days, and it could be many hours or days before roads can be reopened or power restored. You should be prepared to spend, at a minimum, 72 hours on your own.

For more on winter storms: Learn how they work


Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to:

  • Create fear among the public.
  • Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism.
  • Get immediate publicity for their causes

Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks; and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons.

Outdoor Warning Sirens


There are several outdoor warning sirens within Dickinson County to alert the public of approaching tornadoes or potentially tornadic thunderstorms. There are several things you should be aware of concerning these sirens:

  1. Like their name implies, the sirens are meant to be an OUTDOOR warning system. They are not meant or designed to be heard inside homes and other buildings. To be alerted when indoors, you should purchase a NOAA All-Hazards (Weather) Radio.
  2. The sirens are activated when a Tornado Warning has been issued for Dickinson County and/or when a tornado has been spotted by a trained spotter. We try hard to activate the sirens ONLY in the areas of the county expected to be impacted by the storm.
  3. When activated, the sirens will sound for approximately three minutes, then automatically shut off. Just because the sirens stop sounding does not mean that the severe weather threat has passed.
  4. There is NOT an all-clear siren. If the sirens sound again that simply means that another storm is approaching and you should remain in, or return to, your shelter.

If You Hear a Siren

The sirens in Dickinson County are tested each Wednesday at noon unless there are thunderstorms within 50 miles of Dickinson County or a Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for Dickinson County. Tests are also suspended during the winter months to prevent damage to the equipment from ice and cold temperatures.

If you hear an outdoor warning siren you should immediately go to your place of shelter. DO NOT CALL 911! When possible, take a battery operated NOAA weather radio or an AM/FM radio with you to monitor conditions while in your shelter. Do not leave your shelter until you hear that the warning has expired or been cancelled or when you are sure that the severe weather threat has passed by.

Siren Expansion

In the summer of 2007, the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of four new outdoor warning sirens from Federal Signal. These sirens were installed in 2008 near Camp Foster, Methodist Camp, Elinor Bedell State Park and near Okoboji View golf course. In the summer of 2009, two more sirens were installed around Big Spirit Lake, one near Anglers Bay and the other in the Shore Acres area. In 2010, another siren was added in the Moore Lake area and in 2011, in a partnership between the county and the City of Orleans resulted two sirens: one on the west side of Big Spirit Lake, covering Marble Beach Campground and the other covering the east side of Big Spirit. The newest siren, put into service in July of 2012, covers the community of Montgomery.

The expansion is part of a multi-year plan by Emergency Management and the County Board of Supervisors to install sirens in the developed areas of unincorporated Dickinson County. Future sirens have been planned for the northwest side of Big Spirit Lake and Horseshoe Bend County Park.

Siren Locations

The map below shows current locations of Outdoor Warning Sirens in Dickinson County. The green circles show the APPROXIMATE coverage areas for each siren.

Be Prepared

Being prepared can help prevent or minimize the impact on you and your property. Find out how to prepare for various situations here.

We're StormReady!

Dickinson County and eight communities have been certified “StormReady” by the National Weather Service. For more information, click here.

IEMA Member

Iowa Emergency Management AssociationDickinson County Emergency Management is a member of the Iowa Emergency Management Association. To learn more about IEMA, visit their website at