Houston County could possibly do away with its weather sirens beginning in the new year.
“This is old technology, and I don’t think we need to continue spending money on it,” Houston County EMA deputy director Leigh Martin said. “We think there is a better way to notify our citizens because outdoor sirens are not where it’s at anymore.”
During a Houston County Commission work session Monday, Martin told commissioners that EMA is looking to push citizens to its website and app to receive severe weather alerts as opposed to sounding the sirens. Residents would also have the opportunity to sign up for a text alert system to have notifications sent directly to their phones.
Currently, there are 33 weather sirens throughout the county. Over the last five years, the county has spent over $23,000 in siren maintenance and repairs, with $16,000 of that coming in the last fiscal year.
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In order for the sirens to function, they must have a radio module. Martin said in the past two years, modules on several sirens have required repair or replacement due to repeated lightning strikes.
“We’ve taken some horrible lightning strikes and the boards that are inside of the radios is what we’ve had to repair,” Martin said.
New sirens can cost in upwards of $60,000. With these high prices, the sirens are not worth it anymore, Martin said.
“I don’t think we need to continue with sirens moving forward,” Martin said. “It’s really not worth the bang for the buck. The parts are really expensive for the sirens.”
Neighboring counties including Geneva, Dale, and Coffee, have already started the process of eliminating sirens. Martin believes this trend will continue and all areas across the country will get rid of sirens.
“Everybody in our region of the country is looking to do away with sirens,” Martin said.
While no plan has been put into place, the Houston County Commission seems to be on board with the idea.
“I think we need to move away from sirens,” Houston County chairman Brandon Shoupe said. “To me this is probably the best thing to do because we spend a lot of money on them.”
Commissioners will likely vote on the siren removal at a future commission meeting. If they do remove them, it will be at the start of the new year.