Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Murray

Storm sirens still not working

MURRAY – Residents of Calloway County should not let their guard down tonight. Although the county has already seen significant storms both last night and earlier today, local weather expert Justin Holland said this evening that, with more storms expected after 9 p.m., the county is “not even close” to being past threats of severe weather. 

“It is important to have multiple ways to receive warnings because sometimes technology fails,” said Holland, who is the official weather observer of Calloway County for the Paducah National Weather Service and the creator of Murray/Calloway County Weather. “If Plan A doesn’t work out, then you have Plan B and Plan C as a backup.” 

Such technology failures are not limited to cell phones and weather radios. The storm sirens that many rely on to notify them when severe weather is imminent have several technological components that can fail, too. 

In March, the Sentinel reported that two of the three storm sirens owned by the City of Murray did not sound during the last quarterly storm siren test on March 6. One of the sirens that did not work is located on Glendale Road, in the Village Medical parking lot, and the other siren is just outside of Riviera Courts, a mobile home park located on U.S. 641N. Those sirens, both of which are more than 30 years old, also did not sound during the previous test in December.

The siren that did function properly is on Doran Road. There are also storm sirens on the campus of Murray State University, but those are owned by the university, not the city. The county does not own any storm sirens. 

In March, Murray Police Chief Sam Bierds advised that the siren on Glendale Road would have to be replaced. At the time, he was hopeful that the Riviera Courts siren could be fixed but acknowledged that it also needs to be replaced in the near future. 

“I know I’ve had someone out at least twice if not more to come out and look at those sirens, to try to get them up and running,” Bierds said in March, noting he was still a few weeks shy of his first anniversary as chief. “The thing is they can be repaired enough to pass the repair test, but the longevity of those repairs is what’s not lasting, which is why we need to replace them.” 

“We don’t know when they’re going down unless we’re going out there every day and testing them, and I think the citizens would be a little upset if I set the sirens off every day,” he added. “That’s when the determination was made to say ‘OK, we need to see what we are going to be able to do for a real permanent solution rather than just kind of piecing this thing along’.” 

Today Bierds said that the replacement siren for Glendale Road has been ordered. About the Riviera Courts siren, he said that the problem ended up being a broken radio, which has been repaired but not re-installed. 

“It is scheduled to be put back in the siren this week, unfortunately this weather event came before it could be installed,” Bierds wrote in a text. “In an effort to mitigate the risk to the community, we coordinated with Calloway Emergency Management to send a ‘one call’ advising people of the severe weather threat.”

Calloway County Office of Emergency Management Director Josh Kerr said that the notification was sent shortly after noon today through hyper-reach (formerly CodeRED), which is the county’s reverse 911 system for community alerts. To sign up for hyper-reach, visit the county’s website (callowaycountyky.gov).

Another option is to sign up for a texting service. Murray/Calloway County Weather offers one that is specific to Calloway County for $1 per month. 

“The Murray Weather texting service is in our fourth consecutive year to provide citizens with important and instant weather messages directly to your phone,” Holland said. “It includes any watches, warnings or information about dangerous weather situations to keep you and your family safe. It is specific info for your area of the county, which could be critical in a severe weather situation.” 

Regardless of how you chose to receive severe weather alerts, Holland “highly recommends” having two or three different ways to be notified. “This way you will have all of your bases covered.”

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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