Monroe replacing 50-year-old tornado sirens

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MONROE (WKOW) — After 18 tornadoes were reported in four states across the central United States, the city of Monroe is replacing its aging sirens so that residents can be more effectively warned of incoming severe weather.

“In places like Oklahoma, they deal with a lot more tornadoes than we do, but that doesn’t mean we can be relaxed about the situation,” said Fire Chief Dan Smits.

The current, air-raid-style sirens have been in Monroe for more than half a century. “We believe they were installed in 1966 or possibly earlier,” Smits said.

Since then, they’ve aged and become more expensive and difficult to maintain.

“At the time, they were what they had for sound, but they’ve come up with newer technology,” Smits said.

Most cities, according to Smits, have upgraded their sirens, since the new sirens are more secure and spin — making them more easily heard.

“You’ll hear the ups and downs of the sirens, kind of like you do on an emergency vehicle,” he said. “The ups and downs is what attracts attention.”

With the new system, Smits says they can be activated from anywhere — even out in the field while he’s spotting storms.

“We will be able to easily activate them, even from possibly the locations where we’re at,” he said.

Smits said that will help the city more easily warn residents to take shelter when storms hit, like the tornadoes that swept through Green County in 2017.

“We suffered a couple of tornadoes north of town with quite severe destruction to some properties,” he said.

Smits wanted to remind residents that the sirens are a warning to go inside during severe weather, at which point people should go to a lower level away from windows and tune-in to weather coverage on radio, TV or mobile apps.

Andrew Merica

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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