Smithville officials will open bids next week for a new tornado siren alert system.
Charlie Parker is the Dekalb County Emergency Management Director. He said the tornado that struck Putnam County in March exposed the vulnerabilities communities have when it comes to such disasters.
“Unfortunately it was our realization after the tornadoes in Putnam County how our warning system here in Dekalb County is not up to what it needs to be, and it needs to be improved on,” Parker said.
Parker said the sirens will initially cover the city limits of Smithville, but officials hope to expand the system to the rest of the county. He said the system will be be funded through emergency funds from the federal government.
“At this point the Smithville has kind of taken charge,” Parker said. “The COVID-19 safety money that some cities and counties received in the state was used to improve safety in their respective locations. So the City of Smithville did appropriate some of that grant money that comes from the state to use on the tornado warning sirens in the city limits of Smithville.”
Having another tool in the county’s warning tool box is something Parker said the county needs. But it is just one part of the warning system.
“It is just one means to inform the public,” Parker said. “It is not the one and only means. There’s other means from the weather apps that go on your phone. We have reverse 911 calls that can go out to landlines and cell phones to notify tornado warnings.”
Bids for the new system will be opened next Friday and they will considered at the next Smithville City Council meeting. Parker said he hopes the system is installed and operational this fall.