Emergency Management Agencies explain outdoor storm warning siren systems

During many severe storms at least one siren in the area hasn't worked.

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 8:28 PM

Plenty of rain and flooding during the past two weeks during the past two weeks has brought severe weather warnings to our area.

Those severe storm warnings are when outdoor warning sirens can save lives, but in north Alabama, there are consistent problems with them not working.

Rita White, Limestone County Emergency Management Director, said her office does monthly tests to make sure the county's 27 warning sirens are working, but those tests don’t guarantee they’ll work when needed because of their location.

"They have various components in them. They have the computer boards, they have batteries. There are all kinds of parts to them so like any other piece of equipment you can have a failure of one. They are outdoors all the time. The parts are enclosed. The majority of them, but they are out in the weather," she said.

Across the state line in Tennessee, Doug Campbell, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director, said workers do weekly tests, but there was no scientific evidence to support those tests with the old system.

"We relied on citizens to call and say 'hey the siren at unity school isn't working,'" he said.

Campbell explained when a tornado warning was issued in December none of the sirens sounded just days after one of those weekly tests.

"The computer system was old. Naturally, technology had passed them by," he explained.

Back across the state line in Alabama, storms in Lawrence County prompted a tornado warning to be issued, but one siren didn't work.

Major damage was left behind by an EF-2 tornado during that warning. It killed 2 people and seriously injured several others.

Campbell said Lincoln County and the City of Fayetteville spent $70,000 to buy 10 new sirens for the area. These new sirens have technology that can be accessed remotely or at the emergency management agency office on a computer. It shows if the sirens are working, and if the different components inside the warning siren are operating properly.

"It gives us a piece of mind that the sirens are working. We would get calls in here all the time that said hey the siren didn't work. We didn't hear it, so we would have to call a technician. Technicians come out and see what's going on and why our siren did not work. With this system here, it automatically tells us there is something wrong," Campbell explained.

In Limestone County, White said it's siren testing systems creates a print out during monthly tests to show if there are any problems with the sirens. Last year, the county spent $10,000 fixing sirens. White said replacing all 27 sirens in the county would cost about $750,000. She believes the sirens aren't creating enough problems to make that necessary.

"We have pretty good luck with them now. Every now and then you'll have one with an issue or a problem. We do advise residents to not depend on those sirens. They are made for outdoor warning purposes. They're not made to be heard in doors. You may hear them indoors at time but then other times you may not. It all depends on cloud cover, wind, various factors," she said.

Emergency Management Directors all across North Alabama said they suggest everyone has at least two ways to receive emergency alerts such as getting alerts to their phone or having a weather radio.

WAAY 31 reached out to Emergency Management Agencies across north Alabama. Right now, Madison county told us one of it's warning sirens is not working. Marshall county told us it currently has 3 of it's sirens not working. Laurderale County said two of it's sirens aren't working. Morgan, Jackson, Dekalb, and Lawrence county said currently all of it's sirens are believed to working.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 109627

Reported Deaths: 1073
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21296285
Davidson19320199
Rutherford604251
Hamilton562147
Knox392634
Williamson323022
Sumner316069
Unassigned29244
Out of TN282312
Wilson206420
Montgomery171111
Bradley170510
Sevier17025
Trousdale15726
Putnam154713
Robertson143216
Hamblen121713
Tipton11049
Blount10987
Maury10665
Washington10382
Madison88912
Bedford86210
Macon83413
Hardeman79411
Sullivan7809
Lake7440
Bledsoe6681
Loudon6493
Fayette6178
Anderson5995
Dickson5871
Gibson5582
Cheatham5445
Dyer5427
Rhea4971
Jefferson4892
McMinn47920
Lawrence4746
Obion4274
Henderson4260
Carter4245
Lauderdale4216
Coffee4112
Warren4004
Hardin3987
Cocke3911
Cumberland3756
Greene3695
Haywood3695
Smith3613
Monroe3569
Roane3561
Giles3449
Hawkins3244
McNairy3105
DeKalb3041
Franklin2854
Marshall2632
Weakley2603
Lincoln2511
Carroll2263
Hickman2260
Crockett2233
Wayne2141
Claiborne2120
Henry2110
Campbell2071
Marion2064
Chester1921
White1913
Grainger1680
Polk1661
Johnson1600
Decatur1591
Unicoi1360
Overton1341
Union1180
Cannon1170
Jackson1071
Grundy1012
Humphreys1013
Scott1010
Meigs960
Sequatchie940
Benton921
Morgan791
Fentress740
Hancock741
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay620
Lewis561
Houston550
Moore420
Van Buren320
Pickett221

 

 

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