New Tornado Sirens Not Yet Online - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/07/04

New Tornado Sirens Not Yet Online

A not-yet-working siren on Tybee. A not-yet-working siren on Tybee.

As storms with the possibility of tornadoes continue to develop in the wake of Hurricane Frances, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency is trying to get its warning system up to speed. But when a tornado hit in Chatham County yesterday, many of the tornado alarms in our area didn't work.

Chatham County just installed new sirens in five different locations. Some of those areas were in the path of yesterday's tornado, and none of them had a working tornado siren.

Just after 9am this morning, the sirens on Isle of Hope started blaring. Sandfly resident Stewart Marshall's first thought was that it was a tornado. "My ears have been perked up ever since I saw the news and the footage of the tornado," he said. 

But there were no tornadoes on Isle of Hope today. Volunteer firefighter Bill Proveaux says a lot of people assumed it was a tornado, but it was actually a fire alert. "Everybody's a little on edge about what's happening," Proveaux said.

CEMA received plenty of calls about the sirens too. They have 25 sirens around the county, but five of them cannot give out tornado warnings just yet.

"That's why we recommend everyone have a radio," CEMA deputy director Dan Stowers said. He says Isle of Hope is one of the five locations temporarily without a tornado warning siren, along with Whitemarsh, Oatland and Tybee Islands  and the Southside near AASU.

He says those sirens are brand new, not in disrepair. "That siren needs to be programmed," he said. "It should happen in the next ten days."

Stewart Marshall's hoping it happens before another tornado touches down. "You can never be too safe," he said.

The new sirens cost $20,000 plus installation and programming.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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