February 11, 2013

We should take another look at emergency sirens

The Daily Citizen
charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com

— The tornado that struck Adairsville two weeks ago reminded us once again how dangerous and destructive Mother Nature can be.

Coming less than two years after storms ravaged Ringgold, the devastation that struck Adairsville should have every emergency official in this region looking to make sure they have done everything they can to protect citizens from severe weather.

Dalton and Whitfield County have been fortunate. We escaped the worst of the storms that struck Adairsville and Ringgold, and local citizens would be hard pressed to recall the last time a tornado struck here. Ask locals, and they’ll tell you that we are protected by the mountains that surround us. They keep that bad weather from sweeping through here. We hope that is true. But we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Local residents need to have plans for how they will respond to severe weather and other emergencies. If they haven’t already, they need to buy a weather radio and go to the county website (www.whitfieldcountyga.com) and sign up for the CodeRed system, which will send them severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service by phone.

Adopting the CodeRed system is one of the best things that Whitfield County officials have done in recent years.

But unlike some other parts of the state, Dalton and Whitfield County don’t have emergency sirens to alert residents of bad weather. Officials say this area’s mountainous terrain makes sirens less effective here than in flatter areas, and the costs of sirens are large.

But in light of the storm that struck Adairsville, local officials might want to take another look at emergency sirens. It still may not make financial sense to cover the whole county. But perhaps a system that covers just the more urban areas could provide some protection at a reasonable cost.