Warning sirens’ setup pleases Crawford officials

Six storm sirens scheduled for installation in Crawford County soon aren’t a cure-all, but they’re a step in the right direction, county officials said.

The sirens will cover just a small portion of the county, but they will help, especially when combined with the county’s Code Red telephone alert system, said Gerry Gibb, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

“This will give us an additional warning,” he said. “The areas we’ve selected have the highest concentration of residents.”

County manager Pat Kelly said Crawford received a $110,400 grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to purchase the six sirens, for which the county provided matching funds of $16,560. They are slated to be up and running in about a month.

A Warner Robins company, Sheets Communications, won the bid for the contract and was approved by the County Commission at a March meeting.

Kelly said the highest-decibel siren would be placed in the heart of Roberta. Sheets Communications is still studying exactly where to put the other five sirens to get the optimal coverage for the most residents, he said.

Two of the sirens will be placed in the eastern part of the county on Boy Scout Road and Hartley Bridge Road, Kelly said. The other sirens will be placed on Marshal Mill Road, in the Musella area and Ga. 128 West.

The tornadoes that hit the county in 2008 provided the impetus to get a better warning system, Kelly said.

“We had three tornadoes hit the county, including the one on Mother’s Day,” he said. “We looked at that and said we have to do a better job of protecting our citizens. The Code Red (phone system), we’ve gotten that up and running, and this is Phase 2.”

About 200 structures were damaged or destroyed in the 2008 storms, Gibb said. And while no one was killed, people were injured.

“We hope that the combination of the Code Red (and the sirens) will get folks the word,” Gibb said. “We’ve been blessed that we’ve had no loss of life, and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Gibb and Kelly noted that it will take several years to increase the coverage area for the sirens in the county. Neighboring Bibb County has more than 70 sirens, he said, and is a smaller-sized area in terms of total land.

“The population of Crawford County is so spread out,” he said. “Our supplier is working with us, but I’m sure the project is going to take several years.”

Kelly said the sirens would be controlled by the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, which would activate them any time there’s a tornado warning.

The sirens, when tested, make a kind of “growling” noise, so people won’t hear the siren wails so often and ignore them.

“If you hear the sirens, you know that something is going on,” he said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.