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Broken Sirens in Cass

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NeFire242

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- The village of Manley's emergency siren barely works, and fixing the siren likely won't be simple or cheap.

But no laws require a town or city to have a working emergency siren, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. In fact, many communities in Nebraska, including South Bend and Beaver Lake in Cass County, have no siren at all.

"It's really up to the local governments to decide whether or not they want to spend the money to purchase and maintain public warning systems," said Al Berndt, assistant director of the emergency management agency.

Berndt suggested towns like Manley check into USDA rural development grants for emergency siren projects.

The Manley siren has a faulty controller -- the part that activates it electronically when it gets an emergency page from the Cass County Sheriff's Department -- which means volunteer fire and rescue workers must set it manually, board secretary and Manley Fire Chief Jim Woolhiser said at a recent village meeting.

"It's just really old with obsolete parts," Manley board Chairman Mike Jensen said of the siren he estimates to be about 35 years old. "I was hoping to do updating on the complete system, but then I come to find out that there's no money available from the state to do that. So basically we're trying to make do with what we got."

The siren at the Cass County Department of Roads shop in the middle of town has been a source of constant frustration for the village as parts broke down, Jensen said. The issue with the controller was discovered this spring.

A new siren could cost Manley more than $1,200, said Jensen. He said the village considered repairing the one it has, but not many businesses could do the job because the parts are so dated.

"Funds are so short and in a small town like ours there are so many other places to spend money. "But we're working to get it done ASAP."

But the village of less than 200 has a couple of options, Jensen said. When the first siren was donated to the town, a second, backup siren accompanied it. The backup works, but it uses more power than is available in the county roads shop.

"This fall we're going to move the second siren into the co-op where there's enough voltage available to run it," Jensen said.

Bill Cover, director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency, said his department encourages citizens to buy their own emergency warning systems. He suggests every home have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, which cost $30 to $60.

"Those devices are designed to be used in the home and can wake you up in middle of night," Cover said. "Plus, it's a more cost-effective solution to the kind of problem Manley and other small towns face."

Buying radios for every household could be more cost-effective than buying a new siren for towns the size of Manley.

"So there are other options to explore. The fact that a community doesn't have a siren is not necessarily the end-all," Cover said. "And the bottom line also is that it's not up to the village or county to be the final say in protecting you and your family. It's the responsibility of the family to protect the family."

http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2006/07/05/news/nebraska/7ac0607678b89739862571a200108e79.txt
 

W0JJK

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A new federal siren will cost in $20,000 range if not more. They are not cheap to buy.

I am glad that I don't live in Manley because a weather radio is fine but the NOAA or NWS radio may be a 5 minute delay from the initial reporting of a report. That could have damaging results.

When you have a working siren you get more of an instant warning.

When the spotter net see something and let the dispatcher push the right button or click the tab on the computer. Then the siren is going off in a minute or 2 at most. That gives you more of a warning to go hide in the basement.

Just my thoughts.

KC0LOD
 
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Thunderbolt

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What these communities don't realize is that by not having a warning siren system, or one that is functioning improperly can lead to some rather intense lawsuits from the public. If it can be shown that a properly working siren system would have saved lives or prevented injuries, then the lawyers can have a field day in court. Moreover, in this day-and-age of "lawsuit first; ask questions later on," I can see a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon to get a piece of the pie.

Many communities, especially in "Tornado Alley," love to play "Russian Roulette," when it comes to needed public safety improvements or upgrades. I believe that it was Clarksville, Tenn. that was hit by a large F4 twister in the wee hours of the morning, causing tremendous damage to the town, just a few years ago. Ironically, they had no sirens to speak of, but the broadcast media always told everyone to listen for the sirens, which in reality were not there, and this caused a few injuries to people expecting to hear a siren. Nonetheless, legal action prompted the city to open up its coffers to buy a new siren system.

In the past, FEMA and the earlier DCPA, offered federal matching funds for the procurement of outdoor warning sirens. This program was done on a 50/50 basis, and thousands of communities across the nation took advantage of this program from 1950-1991, when it was cut by FEMA. Ironically, after your community is destroyed by a tornado, or other natural disaster, part of the mitigation plan to prevent future loss of life, does allow for the establishment of an outdoor siren system, with the help of federal relief funds.

My question is: why not provide the money for sirens before the town is hit? Why wait till after an event to worry about it?

73's

Ron
 

Thunderbolt

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kc0lod said:
When you have a working siren you get more of an instant warning.
This is so very true! I can remember studies being conducted 15-20 years ago that showed the time difference in warning dissemination methods to the public. By far, the warning sirens won out hands down, with a minimum of 20 seconds to alert the public, with the broadcast media taking up to 20 minutes in some cases to get the warning out to the public.

I know that warning lead times have improved over the last two decades, but a siren system is locally controlled at the community or the county level and can be set off in a matter of seconds. Banking on the radio and TV as your only source for warnings can be risky, and if threatening conditions are sighted, by all means dive for your basement. Waiting for a siren or other means to confirm that the tornado tearing across your neighbor's cornfield is real, is completely insane. However, there have been cases where this has happened in the past.

In reality, the best warning system is your own eyes and ears!


73's

Ron
 

hilgerone

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Sirens or not, Bill is right in saying that WX radios are a must have. And they are getting quicker at being able to send out warnings from Valley. In fact, depending on the dispatcher and the situation locally, I'd say the NWS could have it out nearly as quick. But I agree the sirens are always going to be important. Although, as in Hallam, the power to these smaller communities is usually fed in by one source and when that gets knocked out, they don't do much good. Nothing ever sounded in Hallam from what I've been told. But the battery back-up weather radios probably were going off.
A lot boils down to the spotters and EM. Someone has to get the info on the the NWS. I know that in our EM, there is one person who's main job is to pass info on the the NWS as it comes in. Even if it is just hail or high winds, the next county down the road will benefit from the info if nothing else.

Matt
 

timkilbride

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Warning sirens are designed for warn people outdoors, not indoors. To many people think they are suppose to warn you while you are indoors. Granted, if you are close enought to them indoors they will warn you. When the wind is blowing and many other factors, that cuts down on being able to hear them indoors also.
 

Yokoshibu

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Honestly I cant hear a darn thing in my basement and I live 1/2 block from one siren to the south east and 1/2 block from another to my north west.... I really think a low cost alternative is the mass callback systems that call everyone in the town to alert them .... personally I run with emergency email .org and I have not had any problems, the only thing faster is NAWAS when the NWS office is typing the warning up!
 

NeFire242

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You have bigger problems if you are relying on an email to save your life.

It is up to each county to sound their own siren or outdoor warning system, not NWS, etc. A county could just set off the outdoor warning with just a spotters report even before it's broadcast back to NWS via NAWAS or the spotters PBX to their local WFO.

This warning system should not be a telephone network either as there can be too many issues with these types of systems. Maintenance of such a list and network would be more costly in the future than simply installing a warning device.

What if no one is home, or cannot answer the phone? What if a person chooses not to be contacted? No call list? Would it leave a message on voice mail or an answering machine? If it's not delivered on a timely basis and someone is injured or a death occurs, who is responsible for that law suit?

There really is no excuse not to have proper working outdoor warning. Most local areas around here even sound them during their daily fire pager test. With all of the money set aside for DHS funds, obtaining a grant or assistance for a siren should be rather easy, especially if your district, SID, city, village, etc has no warning system currently in place.

If nothing else they should purchase one and come up with the money later. The $20,000 for a new one is easily justifiable by not having a loss of life.
 

Yokoshibu

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I still dont know what good outdoor warning does when I am sound asleep and cant hear 2 sirens within a mile of my location... I am a sound sleeper is that my fault?

the only real good solution is to be proactive.... I use email, rss feeds, and radio to keep me up to date, so If you think I have problems cause I use every tool I can then I dont know what to call my neighbors who only rely on the siren...

whatever happened to personal responsibility? Oh the laywers from california had to sue on behalf of morons... I forgot.
 

SCPD

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Yokoshibu said:
I still dont know what good outdoor warning does when I am sound asleep and cant hear 2 sirens within a mile of my location... I am a sound sleeper is that my fault?
They are to worn people OUTSIDE. The NWS even says that at spotter training classes.
 

Yokoshibu

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yes outside but I dont sleep out there...
the people have the common misconception that it is meant to wake them up in the middle of the night and that is just plain wrong... chances of everyone waking up is going to be fairly low if you live in a brick house and are deaf as dirt... the problem I have is many people rely soley on the siren at night.... not a best practice imho but what do I know.
 

twister19

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Well that article is a bunch of junk. THERE ARE SIRENS IN BEAVER LAKE. As a matter of fact there are several....ummmm I know of two of the top of my head. I get the ability to set them off during severe weather and under normal testing times.
 

NeFire242

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Yeah actually near the water tower on the corner of Dawson Rd and Murray Rd there is one, the other is on the North side of the lake.
 

twister19

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Yes, the second one is somewhere on the north side of their clubhouse down there, now I think there is a third one somewhere, but my records are out of date so I am not too sure where its at or if they did put a third up...all I need to know is when and which button to press.
 

NeFire242

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43g70 said:
Here is picture of this siren. I think it needs help
off... way off... way way off... this thing is BEYOND help.

Yeah I think I'd rather rely on NOAA Wx Radio Alerting me than this thing.
 
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