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Columbus Changes Policy On Tornado Sirens

Columbus says it will now only sound its sirens when there is a tornado warning.

Tornado

Photo: Bob Henson: AtmosNews - NCAR & UCAR(Flickr)

The City of Columbus will now only sound its weather siren when a tornado warning has been issued for the area. Residents should seek shelter immediately when the siren sounds.

The Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety voted unanimously Tuesday to change its policy on when to sound the city’s tornado sirens.

The sirens had been sounded during tornado warnings, but also during a combination of a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning.

The new policy limits the sirens use to just tornado warnings.

Columbus Fire Chief Joel Thacker is in charge of the city’s emergency management. He says people weren’t heeding the sirens because they weren’t sure how serious the threat was.

“When we have these severe weather sirens, they are a great piece of notification for the community, but they have to know what it means,” Thacker says.

Jayne Farber, Board of Public Works and Safety member, says the revised policy falls more in line with those of other counties.

“This seems to be the way other cities have gone, and it seems to mirror what many counties in our area are doing and again we just thought it would be the wise thing to do,” she says.

City officials say they’re also looking into developing a system that would send out text messages and automated voice messages during other disasters such as flooding or chemical spills.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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