Weather alert sirens fail across county during storms
by James Phillips
Oct 28, 2010 | 1557 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As severe weather passed through Walker County for much of Tuesday night, one sound was distinctly missing in many areas — the howl of weather alert sirens.

Walker County Commission Chairman Bruce Hamrick said he had received calls from citizens in almost every part of the county who said sirens in their area did not sound Tuesday.

“I’ve talked to people all over, and they said they just weren’t working,” he said. “We are in the process of finding out exactly which ones didn’t work, but I think it was the majority of them.”

Walker County Emergency Management Agency director Johnny Burnette said the problems with the sirens came from faulty batteries.

“The batteries are designed to be rechargable, but when the charger starts, it usually destroys the battery,” he said. “We are now getting bids on what it would take to make them all electric instead of using batteries.”

Burnette said changing to an electric siren didn’t concern him, because sirens typically sound before electricity is lost during a storm.

“The sirens sound before the weather gets there,” he said. “I want to urge people not to depend on sirens. Common sense is the best tool in severe weather. If a storm is coming, people need to get to a safe place. They don’t need to wait until a siren sounds.”

Hamrick said he hopes to have all the faulty sirens operating properly within two weeks.

“I hope it doesn’t take that long,” he said. “It may not take that long. We need to get them working again as soon as possible.”

Jasper police chief Danny Patton said the sirens within the city limits operated without an issue.

“We checked them about a month ago,” he said. “There were several at that time that needed attention, and we got them fixed. We wanted to be sure they worked properly before the fall storm season got here.”