Tornado sirens are about to disappear in Mobile County | Mobile County Alabama News
MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – Tornado sirens are on the verge of disappearing in an area of southern Alabama. On Wednesday, the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency announced that outdoor warning sirens will soon stop working.
“Sirens are an outdated technology used during the Cold War,” said Anthony Lovitte, chairman of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency’s board of directors.
It’s one of the reasons the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency Board of Directors decided to phase out its 47 sirens.
Lovitte says cost also came into play.
“We would almost have to spend $2 million just to get the current sirens fixed and brought up to a level that we might think were reliable and that only covers 10% of the county,” he said.
To fill the gap, the EMA would need to add approximately 250 more sirens to ensure good coverage in the county. That brings the total cost to around $15 million and that doesn’t include maintenance.
“The only way we’ve looked at it is that we can put a siren in your pocket,” Lovitte said. “We can put the siren in your hand so that you can receive the alert 24/7 wherever you are.”
Authorities have told people for years not to rely solely on tornado sirens in an emergency, especially if you’re indoors. Each mermaid only has a radius of approximately 1 mile.
Jason Beaman of Mobile’s National Weather Service Office says good alternatives are weather radios and emergency alerts on your phone.
“Our point is still the same, is to have multiple ways to get warning information,” he said. “If a system fails, you want to have a backup.”
Over the next two years, the EMA says it will phase out the sirens, but a few will remain in Downtown Mobile.
Not only are sirens expensive to maintain, but the technology is old.
“We want warnings to be directed to those who need them most,” Lovitte said. “We don’t need a waterspout at Dauphin Island to alert Citronelle, we need to alert the people involved in the incident.”
This ruling only applies to Mobile County sirens, not private sirens.
Some of the alternatives to tornado sirens are emergency alerts, weather radios…and our FOX10 News app.
Mobile County residents are strongly encouraged to use more accurate and efficient means to receive location-based emergency alerts, including:
– FREE Mobile County EMA app (available through the Apple App Store or Google Play)
– Follow Mobile County EMA on Facebook (@MobileCountyEMA) or Twitter (@MobileA1EMA)
– Free Alabama SAF-T-Net app
– FREE Mobile County Communications District Alerts App
– Enable wireless emergency alerts for smartphone
– NOAA weather radios
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