Etowah County considering removing tornado sirens

ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Etowah County Commission is exploring the idea of doing away with the county’s outdoor weather sirens.

Outdoor sirens have been a staple in the U.S. since World War II, but the bulk of them now are used as warnings for severe weather. Etowah County Commissioners recently discussed the usefulness of these sirens, and if they should still be relied on to deliver life-saving warnings.

Residents say despite some siren failures, they should still be used to protect life and property.

“They should maintain it, not do away with the program,” Connie Means, Etowah County resident said. “Because we should use every tool possible to alert and make people aware that bad weather is coming.”

Others in the county think that you can never be too careful when it comes to severe weather.

“If I’m out in some of these rural areas in Etowah County, and I don’t have a cell phone with me, it’s nice to know that there is a storm coming,” said Larry Buchanan, another Etowah County resident.

Dr. Laura Myers, the Director of the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama, believes that with all the options available to us, including smartphone apps and weather radios, sirens shouldn’t be relied upon solely to receive weather warnings.

“You need more than one, because the one that you rely on may not be the one you hear or the one you get,” Myers said. “Because they all either work or don’t work under varying conditions.”

However, Myers tells CBS42 News that outdoor sirens still serve a purpose to certain parts of the population.

“The cell phone apps are not going to work in rural areas. NOAA Weather Radio may be the only thing. A siren may be valuable in a rural area,” Myers said. “I think if you remove any one element, you’re going to mess it up for somebody in the jurisdiction.”

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