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Weather warning sirens eyed for county VFD's

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 15, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors are considering purchasing severe weather warning sirens to be placed in the county's 22 volunteer fire departments. The county has none now.
An appropriations bill passed earlier this month in the U.S. House of Representatives includes funding for moving a Doppler radar from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi to Rankin County, which is expected to give East Central Mississippi better radar coverage.
Dr. Kathy Baxter, a proponent of getting Doppler radar coverage back in Meridian, told supervisors at a work session last week the time has come to take some local action, too.
Baxter told supervisors with funding being secured for radar, "it's time to change our focus locally" to getting sirens.
She said her research indicates that five omnidirectional one-mile radius sirens which would each cover two miles in diameter would cost about $65,000. She suggested placing them in county schools. She said she'd like to see an intensive campaign to train people on what to do in severe weather when they hear sirens.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell said sirens should be strategically placed in the county's volunteer fire departments, which are located throughout the county.
Fire Coordinator Clarence Butler said county fire stations are five to 10 miles apart, which leaves about a five-mile radius between them. He said there is no severe weather alarm system in the county now.
Baxter said sirens at fire stations should reach most people. Lauderdale County Emergency Management crews and sheriff's deputies could notify the few people out of the sirens' reach, she said.
She offered to do a population study, compare it with a map of the county and create a population density map to help target people who might not be able to hear the sirens.
Supervisors said they will also do some additional research themselves.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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