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Storm sirens an investment in safety of community
As a fourth-generation West Texan, the expression tornado alley left an indelible mark on my inquisitive mind.
Growing up in Childress, I learned quickly what Tornado Alley truly means when I heard a storm siren for the first time.
When the storm sirens sounded their distinctive warning alarm, it was run to the cellar with the family and pets and leave all else behind. To this very day, I am still intrigued by the sound of storm sirens.
My family and I are very appreciative and thankful that decision makers in the past recognized the need for the great citizens of Childress to have this life saving service in our community.
Additionally, it has been an honor to have a small share in adding to the current outdoor public warning siren system.
Teaming up with the Emergency Management Coordinator, Mr. Bill Ricks, the previous Emergency Management Coordinator and our current Mayor Cary Preston, we decided to request a grant from the state to upgrade our siren system. With the grant writing assistance of John Kiehl at PRPC, efforts that began as far back as 2016 have finally come to fruition.
On July 28, 2020, we received a letter from the Texas Division of Emergency Management that we have been awarded a grant under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for an upgrade to our current outdoor public warning siren system.
The 75 percent / 25 percent matching grant includes two new sirens for a total of $48,326. The HMGP Grant will cover $36,244.50 of the total cost and the City’s portion will only be $12,081.50. What a great savings for the City.
While we were waiting on response from TDEM, in March 2020 we purchased a used siren and repaired another at cost of $6,586. Currently, all eight locations designated for a storm siren are working properly.
The good news is, when we receive the new sirens, we will have 10 operational storm sirens. It is our hope that with two additional sirens, we can set future goals to broaden our zone for greater coverage.
With greater coverage, our public outdoor warning siren system could alert many more citizens to approaching storms that are synonymous with Tornado Alley.