Tuesday afternoon’s severe weather took its toll on Warren County with strong winds knocking down trees and doing damage to homes and property. Absent from the event was the city’s storm warning system to alert residents of the approaching danger.
City administrator Bill Brock informed the Board of Mayor and Aldermen later that evening of the situation.
“This evening, when the storm moved through, you didn’t hear something that you normally hear,” he said. “The sirens didn’t go off. I contacted the director of 911, Chuck Haston. They didn’t know it. They can’t hear them. They are in a concrete structure that’s pretty sound proof. All they know is they punch in the tone and it tells them on the screen that the radio wave signal has been set. That’s all they know.”
In 2005, the city installed six storm warning sirens in order to alert residents about severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings and for other serious instances where there is a possibility for loss of life or property. The system is designed to be heard outdoors only to alert individuals that might not be near a television or radio.
The system was tested after the storm and it worked properly, says Brock.
“We did what’s called a rotating test at about 5 p.m. What it does is spin, but it doesn’t turn on. That worked properly. The only thing we can think of is at the time they sent that signal out something happened. We don’t know what. It could have been lightening. It’s a radio wave signal. It just didn’t follow through. We’re going to test the system over the next few days to make sure everything is working.”
Brock was questioned if the system was turned on to test it, rather than just a rotating test.
“No, we only did a rotation,” said Brock. “We hate to do a siren test because that would have alarmed everyone. The last time that they were tested, on the first Friday of the month, they worked fine. We think it was just a glitch in the signal as it went out.
The system is tested routinely on the first Friday of every month. This is the first time the system has failed to sound since it was installed 10 years ago.