New tornado siren in Dade County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New tornado siren in Dade County

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DADE COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

The next time a tornado is headed toward Trenton, Georgia you'll hear a warning siren if you're near the city. Dade County Emergency Services director Alex Case says it can be heard from about a mile away.

"This will cover the city of Trenton, our Trenton city park, Dade County Elementary, Dade County Middle School, and Dade County High School," explains Case.

The siren is an upgrade from the one installed about 20 years ago behind Trenton City Hall. It still works, but the decades-old army surplus siren has to be operated manually.

The new one sounds automatically for 20 to 30 seconds as soon as the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for the area. Then it speaks to you.

"It actually enunciates saying ATTENTION, ATTENTION! There's a tornado warning in your area. ATTENTION, ATTENTION," adds Case.

The automatic siren only sounds if there's a Tornado Warning. There's also a manual option which allows county officials to use the siren to make public announcements, like for a severe thunderstorm warning or an evacuation.

Many people receive weather alerts on their cell phones, including ones from the county's Hyper-Reach free subscription service. However, Case thinks of the siren as an extra level of protection for people who are busy outdoors and may not be looking at their cell phones.

"Especially at the ball fields and the parks," says Case. "People may set that stuff down or have it in their pocket, playing with their children."

The new siren will be tested out loud once per quarter starting in 2017. A silent test is done every day. The county finally received a federal grant to cover about $40,000 of the $48,000 needed. The rest was raised locally through a special sales tax, SPLOST, over the past few years.

"When you get awarded a declaration, you have to pay 15% of the cost," explains Case.

He had to wait until the county was financially ready. "We didn't feel comfortable [a few years ago]. You don't want to write a bad check," adds Case.

New SPLOST funds that are raised are good until 2021. Case wants to have seven more sirens installed across the county by then, including one at Cloudland Canyon State Park. As an added measure, everyone is encouraged to purchase a NOAA Weather Radio for home and /or work.

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