Linn County has completed the installation of six outdoor warning sirens in rural Linn County. In a contract approved by the Linn County Board of Supervisors in August, the six additional outdoor warning sirens will provide coverage for several areas, including some campgrounds. The areas covered by the sirens include approximately 11,000 properties and 2,100 residents.
The new sirens will be tested the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 5 as part of the monthly siren activation test performed by the Linn County Emergency Management Agency.
“We want residents living near the new sirens to be aware of them and to know that the sirens will be activated the first Wednesday of every month as part of our ongoing monthly test, beginning November 5,” said Mike Goldberg, director of Linn County’s Emergency Management Agency.
To help inform area residents of the installation and the upcoming test, the Emergency Management Agency will use its mass notification system on Tuesday to call residents listed in the 911 database and living within a two-mile radius of the new sirens.
Goldberg emphasizes that outdoor warning sirens are used for situational awareness and are not intended to be heard indoors. Their purpose is to alert people who are outdoors of potentially hazardous conditions and to seek shelter and additional information about the warning through the local media. EMA is working to code the sirens to activate only for emergencies in the affected area, but currently all six new sirens will activate even if they are not in the area of concern.
“For example, if the siren in Pinicon Ridge Park near Central City is activated for a tornado warning, the siren located south of the Airport National Golf Course will also be activated,” said Goldberg. “We are working to address that issue, but it’s another reminder for people to check the local media to find out why the sirens are sounding.”
The new sirens were installed at the following locations:
1) Horseshoe Falls Road in Pinicon Ridge Park west of Central City
2) near the intersection of Troy Mills Road and Shore Lane south of Troy Mills
3) along Wapsi Ridge Drive near Hitaga Sand Ridge Prairie Preserve
4) near the intersection of County Road W54 and Walford Road north of Western
5) along Whittier Road north of Whittier
6) near the intersection of Stone Road and Highway 151 west of Springville
The total cost of the six sirens and the installation is $146,717. Linn County received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division to fund the sirens. The cost is shared by FEMA, the State of Iowa, and Linn County. Linn County’s portion, which is $22,007, will be paid from the county’s rural services levy.
Activation of Sirens
The Linn County Emergency Management Agency reminds the public of the following criteria for the sounding of its outdoor public notification warning sirens:
• Tornado Warning issued by the National Weather Service and/or
• Tornado or funnel cloud reported by a trained spotter
• Severe Thunderstorm Warning issued by the National Weather Service or report received from a trained spotter that includes:
o wind 70 mph or greater, or
o golf ball sized hail or larger
Local Life-threatening Events
Non-weather emergencies (hazmat incident, terrorism, nuclear emergency, etc.) that pose a threat to those outdoors and require action to protect life.
There will be no “all clear” signal from outdoor warning sirens.