FEMA grant to help pay for 10 emergency sirens

Published 12:00 pm Monday, June 20, 2016

Harmontown residents could feel a little safer now that another emergency siren has been installed.

Emergency Management Agency Director David Shaw recently went before the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to approve an easement with Northwest Side Civic Club to have the tornado siren placed, as well as pay the club a monthly fee for electricity to activate the siren. The payment yearly to the club will be $240.

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Shaw said the siren is one of 10 additional sirens currently being installed in the county.

“The installation process began two weeks ago,” Shaw said. “Most of the poles are in the ground and the equipment (siren and electronics) is attached to the poles. When this step is complete, power will be hooked up and they will be programmed to work with our existing system of sirens.”

Shaw said weather conditions and speed with which they can be installed affect the process.

“We hope to have everything completed in the next two to four weeks,” Shaw said.

Once the new sirens are installed and operable, the county will have 27 total sirens in the system, which does not include those in the city limits of Oxford and the University of Mississipp.

“The city of Oxford and the university each have their own systems of sirens, but they all work together and can all be activated at various locations, including the 911 Dispatch Center at the sheriff’s office and the new Oxford Emergency Operations Center,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the 10 new sirens that are currently being installed are being paid through a FEMA mitigation grant.

“The total cost of the project is $150,000 and is a 75/25 grant where FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost and the county pays the remaining 25 percent,” Shaw said.

Shaw said there are no plans at this time for any additional sirens being installed in the county.

He added that the tornado sirens are just one means by which residents are warned of severe weather.

“We use a variety of methods to warn the public of emergency situations,” Shaw said. “Sirens are activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning that includes all or part of Lafayette County. We try to activate only the sirens located in the areas that are covered by the warning.”

Shaw said the sirens have a limited range and there are not enough sirens to warn everyone, so the Lafayette County EMA also utilizes the CodeRed system, “which is a mass notification service that Lafayette County subscribes to and is available to anyone in the county for free.”

According to Shaw, with the CodeRed system, you can receive a phone call, text message or email, or all three if you choose, when a warning is issued, whether it is a tornado warning, severe thunderstorm warning or flash flood warning. And the subscriber can choose which type of warning they wish to receive. But they must register to receive the CodeRed warnings by visiting the Lafayette County website at www.LafayetteMS.com or the Lafayette County EMA website at EMA.LafayetteMS.com and click on the CodeRed logo for the link to the registration page.

Shaw said residents can also call the Lafayette County EMA office at 662-234-3879 or 662-234-5667 for assistance with the registration process.