Cook County to get 13 new tornado sirens

Cook County only has one working tornado siren.
Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
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ADEL, Ga. (WALB) - Strong storms were deadly in the south this weekend and South Georgia has been under multiple weather warnings. One local county is getting weather technology they’ve needed for years.

A 2017 tornado killed seven in Cook County. The Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director for Cook County Johnny West says it’s been about a decade without tornado sirens because the older ones have become inoperable.

Cook County was under a tornado warning for nearly an hour on Saturday. One restaurant in Adel sustained minor damages, a tree fell on a tow truck and many limbs were tossed around town. The highest gust in the county recorded was 40 miles per hour. West says the county was approved for new tornado sirens coming this summer. He says they can’t come soon enough.

“If something is coming through and it’s going to affect the Cecil area then the other storm sirens won’t be going off,” West said.

If you hear the sirens, it means something is imminent. Tornado sirens can be heard up to five miles away. West said that helps any miscommunication that happens on social media. It could also help when people aren’t on their phones during family time.

“It’s another tool to the toolbox that can help. It can combat false information so everyone’s aware to what’s going on,” Chief West said.

The new system will have 13 tornado sirens spread across the county. Chief West says this source of warning may seem outdated, but it saves lives.

Other EMA directors that had severe weather Saturday say they have enough sirens, but could always use more. Justin Cox of Colquitt County says they have five to seven in the county. They work, but are outdated.

“Of course we would like to upgrade all of them, but obviously funding is always an issue. We do as we can,” Cox said.

In Mitchell County, Chief Russell Moody says there is coverage on Sale City, Camilla and Pelham, but some of the most rural areas are missed in coverage.

Sumter County has a similar problem to Cook County. They will look to get funding for sirens from Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) this year. This is from EMA Director Nigel Poole.

In the meantime, Sumter and Cook county residents can sign up for their “Code Red”. It will apply you for alerts during tornado and or severe thunderstorm warnings. You can find out how to sign up for the free programs on their county websites.