Madison County EMA rushes to repair broken weather sirens

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Madison PD sign warning residents of broken weather siren. (Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – With the possibility of severe weather in the forecast tomorrow, Madison County EMA officials are scrambling to get several tornado warning sirens back on line. The EMA notified Madison residents today one of the sirens was not working, and when we checked, we found another in the same area that wasn’t responding.

Ronald Fletcher lives right across the street from one of Madison County’s tornado warning sirens. “It’ll raise you off the roof, it’s real loud, but I didn’t realize nothing had happened to it,” Fletcher says.

Madison Police posted a warning down the street from Fletcher, telling residents the neighborhood’s tornado siren at Rickwood Park is out of order. EMA officials say it’ll be a few days before it’s operational again. But they stress the sirens should never be your only means of getting the warnings.

Madison County has about 130 of these sirens and every once in a while, one of them breaks.

“You should have multiple layers of warning. The siren system is just one layer and it for outdoor warnings only,” according to Madison County Emergency Officer Chris Reed.

Reed says they check the sirens on a regular basis. The goal is to have them all operating all the time. But when we visited the EMA Thursday afternoon, at least two of the sirens in that same area were unresponsive. Technicians will be back out Friday to make repairs.

Mr. Fletcher lost his mother to the 1974 super outbreak of tornadoes that ravaged North Alabama. He takes the watches and warnings seriously.

“Well usually I’m looking at the TV or the weather radio comes on but it’s important, I try to pay attention to it,” Fletcher said.

Reed says most of the time they can reset an unresponsive siren from the EMA office. When that doesn’t work, they send a technician out to see what’s wrong.