When storms threaten, sirens save lives

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, May 26, 2013

This week’s headlines were once again marred by tragedy following the devastating tornado in Moore, Okla.

Two dozen lives were lost, and nearly 10 times that many were injured. News of the number of dead and injured fluctuated wildly in the early hours of the event. As is often the case in the immediate aftermath of such chaos, the numbers ballooned, then eventually dropped to well short of the initial predictions.

Still, the tragedy and horror for families and friends affected is unimaginable.

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Scenes of utter destruction brought shock and horror to those of us watching from afar. Solidly built homes and buildings were brought down to their foundations.

The inside rooms of the homes, considered the safer rooms, were no match for the F5 tornado’s 200-mph winds. It’s a wonder, if not a miracle, more lives weren’t lost.

Unfortunately, these scenes are becoming all too familiar. Each year these storms seem to get stronger, hitting more populated areas.

Last week’s tornado in Moore marked the third direct hit in that the city’s recent history. Reports in the aftermath of the storm credit the death toll, considered relatively low in relation to the level of devastation, to preventative measures taken by many of the citizens of Moore.

Researchers studying the area say that while home building practices didn’t change much, thousands of storm shelters have been installed in the area since the previous storms.

Another constant in the reports of preventative measures taken in Moore were the weather warning sirens that alerted residents of the impending disaster.

I don’t think I read a single news story recounting the events leading up catastrophe that didn’t start out with a reference to the “drone of the sirens.”

Early warning sirens can save lives.

Thankfully, our city leaders took the responsible steps earlier this year to secure a weather alert warning system for the city of Brookhaven. Five sirens will be installed at a cost of $79,000, 95 percent of which will be covered by a FEMA grant.

The sirens are planned to be installed at the corner of Monticello Street and North Jackson Street, at the corner of Fender Trail and Manufacturers Boulevard, at the end of East Washington Street, at 906 Highway 51 and at the corner of Field Lark Lane and Industrial Park Road.

According to Clifford Galey, Brookhaven-Lincoln County civil defense/emergency management director, the sirens have been ordered and installation is still on schedule for mid to late summer.

I commend our city leaders for taking the appropriate steps in securing a weather alert warning system for our city. As we know, these killer storms are not reserved to Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Our neighbors in Hattiesburg and Monticello are still recovering from tornados that battered their communities earlier this year. Thankfully, no lives were lost in those most recent storms in our backyard.

However, climatologists continue to tell us these storms are predicted to grow ever stronger in intensity as time goes on.

I have no doubt this ounce of prevention by our city will be worth a pound of cure in terms of saving lives when our time for dealing with one of these storms comes our way.

Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at rreynolds@dailyleader.com.