Are tornado warning sirens worth the cost?

The Dunwoody City Council discussed the merits of an emergency alert system at its June 13 meeting, following an update from Kimberly Greer, assistant to the city manager, on the city’s hazard mitigation plan.

“The purchase price is quite high, between $200,000 and $300,000,” Greer said. “The council has previously directed us to look into grants.”

Greer said the Georgia Emergency Management Agency recommended looking at alternatives to sirens “because of the high upfront costs and high operations and maintenance cost.”

The council is also looking to implement an emergency notification system, which would send alerts of severe weather to people’s telephones.

Greer said the city is in the process of reviewing vendors for emergency notifications and looking at grant funding for tornado sirens.

Councilman Danny Ross said he thinks the emergency notification system is the best way for the city to alert residents. He doesn’t think that tornado sirens would be an effective way to warn people who are indoors or too far away to hear the tone.

But Councilman Denis Shortal argued that people often are not near their phones or may not want to give their information out for the system.

“The siren goes off, you hear it. And you’re going to save lives,” he said.

Right now, the city is looking at both the phone system and the traditional sirens.

“We think the two-pronged approach is an appropriate system to continue investigating,” Greer said.