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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: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 51316

Reported Deaths: 645
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby11793200
Davidson11089122
Rutherford298735
Hamilton278135
Sumner161052
Trousdale14985
Williamson131315
Out of TN11857
Knox11717
Wilson94117
Putnam8837
Robertson83411
Sevier8043
Bradley7073
Lake6920
Tipton6455
Unassigned6351
Bledsoe6201
Bedford5705
Montgomery5547
Macon4654
Maury3543
Hardeman3434
Hamblen3404
Fayette3172
Madison2992
Loudon2871
Rhea2860
Dyer2511
McMinn23718
Cheatham2301
Blount2273
Dickson2090
Cumberland1814
Washington1650
Lawrence1636
Lauderdale1453
Anderson1422
Monroe1406
Jefferson1360
Gibson1291
Smith1201
Coffee1190
Sullivan1172
Obion1122
Hardin1087
Greene1032
Cocke940
Haywood922
Marshall911
Franklin873
Wayne860
Hickman800
Warren760
Marion734
McNairy730
White703
DeKalb670
Lincoln640
Weakley641
Grundy621
Overton621
Roane620
Giles601
Carter591
Hawkins572
Unicoi550
Campbell481
Carroll471
Henderson460
Claiborne450
Polk450
Henry440
Johnson440
Grainger420
Sequatchie420
Crockett383
Cannon370
Chester340
Perry340
Meigs320
Humphreys281
Jackson270
Morgan271
Stewart230
Decatur220
Fentress220
Union180
Clay170
Scott170
Houston150
Benton131
Moore120
Van Buren80
Hancock60
Lewis60
Pickett60

 

 

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