New tornado sirens on the way

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

"And when that part of the system fails, it is a problem, and people are not as safe overall as they will be when we finish the upgrade."

That's Hamilton County Commission Board President Todd Portune, explaining why some of the county's tornado sirens failed during Monday and Tuesday's knock-out storms.

In severe weather, if power gets cut, some of county's older sirens will not sound, because they don't yet have battery back-up generators.

FOX19 got plenty of calls at the station. People said they saw the warnings on FOX19, but they couldn't hear the tornado sirens going off in their own backyard. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said he's not surprised by that.

"Fully, 80-percent of the sirens in our system do not have a battery back-up or an alternate power source, so if power's cut to those sirens, they won't work," Portune said.

But, Portune did say the county has awarded a contract to a vendor and the sirens needed to upgrade the system are finally on their way.

"We have some sirens that have actually been upgraded over the past ten years," Portune said. "Which are relatively state-of-the-art and don't need to be replaced, there's a bout 180 total in the system roughly."

Portune has been on a mission since 2001, to get the siren system upgraded.

"They are manually fired," Portune said. "And there is a person with the County EMA, who is on-call every day, who monitors the system."

When the warnings go out, you are supposed to hear the sirens.

"It would have been nice if right now was at the beginning of spring and not in the middle of the storm," said Jason Jackson, who lives in Lockland and said he could not hear the sirens.

"I believe the siren's on the Stearns & Foster building," Jackson said. "It hasn't been working since that building had the fire as few years back."

"I didn't hear no siren," said Jeep Maiser of Reading. "It was a lotta lightning, woo! Oh it was bad, I was worried, I said my prayers."

"It went off and my daughter asked me mommy what should we do?," said Diane Thurmond of Oakley. "And I said go clean up your room before it hits and we'll have a worse disaster," she said laughing. "It already look like a tornado came through? Yes!"

"hey, I got Stefano from FOX19 here," said Bill Ford to his wife, talking to her on her cell phone. He works third shift at the Dow Chemical plant.

"No I did not hear it," Ford said. They were told to take cover when the storms hit close by.

"Well my lab right behind me is actually what they consider a bomb shelter," Ford said.

"You hear a siren last night?" he asked his wife on the phone. "You did? Ok." His wife did hear the sirens.

"We're receiving delivery as we speak," said Portune about the shipment of the new sirens.

Commissioner Portune said the new sirens are on their way right now and very soon, the entire county will be activated and within an audible signal.

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