Severe Weather Tests County Storm Sirens

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Severe weather threatened parts of KAKEland over the weekend and we could expect more tonight.

But are emergency response systems ready for this season's storms?

Going into this year's severe weather season, the county's siren system is working better than before. Still, Emergency Management is hoping to get more money to make major upgrades.

On Saturday night, sirens across Sedgwick County sounded as severe weather moved across the area, which gave the county a real-life test of the warning system.

Out of the county's 101 sirens, there are six that did not pass the test. That number is actually lower than the usual average of out of order sirens. On average, 10% don't sound at any given time.

Those that aren't working right now are spread across the city and in most cases people can hear nearby sirens in case of emergency.

Emergency management asked commissioners for $2 million last spring to upgrade the county's warning system. The money would add all digital backups to each siren and possibly go to a new alert system that would only sound sirens in specific areas affected by weather instead of the current all-or-nothing.

Commissioners haven't taken any action so far but could discuss the idea more when budget talks resume this spring.

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