Wolfforth sirens didn't sound until storm had passed

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 5/03/2012 4:15 am

When dangerous weather hits, sirens blare. However, when Sunday night's storms intensified there was no shrill scream of a siren to be heard by Wolfforth residents.

"The sirens didn't go off. I know they went off at 2:00 a.m but nothing was going on around 2:00 a.m. We needed them to go off around 9:30 p.m. when the storms were really hitting," Jayni Haynes, a Wolfforth resident, said. "We were taking cover under a bridge but we never heard any sirens. Apparently that's when the tornadoes were on the ground."

Darrell Newsom, Wolfforth City Manager, said he has a good idea why the system slipped up.

"What we feel like happened at that point in time is, because they are connected via phone lines, there were possibly some water in the lines because we were getting pretty good rain at that point in time," Newsom said.  

The failure has prompted city officials to re-evaluate their warning methods.

"We feel like there is no one optimal situation. Some people sleep through sirens. If the electricity is down we can't activate them," Newsom said.  

Randy Cisneros, Wolfforth Emergency Management Coordinator, said the siren system was installed in the 1970's.

"The drawbacks to having this type of system, as far as the tornado sirens are concerned, if they go off the citizen is not going to read into why it's been activated. Whether it be a malfunction, whether it be a test, whether it's an actual tornado, they don't know." Cisneros said.

"I'm not really familiar with sirens or what we're supposed to do when they come on or anything like that. I have no idea," Emma Holguin, a Lubbock resident substitute teaching in Wolfforth said.  

The city is looking at updated technology.

"So if we can utilize that technology on top of what else is available, for instance, the text messaging, the email alerts, or an actual phone call. Those working in unison with each other is going to be a lot more effective," Cisneros said.  

Still, some area residents said the shrill sound of a siren is alarming enough.

"I think sirens are better because sirens are louder. If people hear a siren they know something is going on," James Lopez said.  

First thing is first in Wolfforth, and that is fixing the system already in place. That comes with a high price tag.

"The sirens we have now are a lot more expensive technology than people realize. The last time we got a quote it was around $15,000 to $20,000 for just one site," Newsom said.  

Newsom said a grant request is in the works to help fund upgrades on the current warning system.

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