BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The second largest county in the WTOC viewing area does not have tornado sirens, but thanks to county leaders, that is changing.
Beaufort County has miles of beach and waterways. It’s an outdoor paradise for residents and visitors, and that’s one of the reasons outdoor sirens may be best for warning people of impending danger. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve responded to nature’s fury in years past.
“Don’t think because we don’t hear about tornadoes very often, they don’t happen," says Major David Zeoli. "We do have them, and unfortunately, my job, I get to see destruction from tornadoes.”
Norm Goldberg from Bluffton thought the idea of new sirens was interesting.
“I haven’t really seen too many tornadoes around here, but better to have something than nothing.”
The county applied for a hazard mitigation grant, and it will cover about two thirds of the $520,000 cost of “phase one” of 12 siren installations. Major Zeoli says they’ve already applied for “phase two” which costs over $450,000 and will add 15 more sirens, bringing the total to 27 sirens north and south of the Broad River. Comparatively, Chatham County has 62 tornado sirens.
Major Zeoli says he thinks the sirens are equally distributed across Beaufort County.
“For phase one, they are, to be fair on both sides of the county, and for phase two, we’re filling in those blanks, and hopefully we’ll have a phase three."
Goldberg and his family are prime examples of why outdoor warning systems are worth the investment.
“We’re not often sitting at home just waiting for warnings or whatever, so yeah, people walking the beach, riding bikes, whatever, a siren would be great if something happened," he said.
The the first phase of the sirens will be installed in 2020.
Below is a list of proposed site locations for the sirens:
- Whale Branch High School
- Lady’s Island - St. Helena Fire Station #21
- Beaufort Academy
- Lady’s Island - St. Helena Fire Station #20
- Port Royal Fire Station
- Lady’s Island - St. Helena Fire Station #22
- Fripp Island Fire Department
- Edgar Glenn Boat Ramp
- SC DMV
- River Ridge Academy
- Bluffton Township Fire District #37
- Compass Rose Park
- Hwy 462
- Shell Point Fire Station #893
- Daufuskie Fire Station
- Coligny Beach