Few tornado sirens in Hampton Roads and NE NC

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-30 20:34:50-04

Elizabeth City, NC - Some of us are familiar with tornado sirens at the Jefferson Lab in Newport News and even at the nuclear plant in Surry. But after all the damage we've seen from recent tornadoes in NE North Carolina, NewsChannel 3 wanted to know if there are any tornado sirens anywhere else in our community and in our neighborhoods to alert us to severe weather.

In fact, NewsChannel 3 took action, calling several cities and counties and the only tornado siren we could find in the area was in downtown Elizabeth City behind the police department.

"Putting it out in a rural area, you just don't have the coverage.  There would not be that many people that would be able to hear it if you had it out in a rural area," said Christy Saunders, Coordinator of Emergency Management for Pasquotank and Camden counties.

Saunders says tornado sirens are not where they want to focus, in part because of smart phones, weather apps like the NewsChannel 3 app, and NOAA Weather Radios.

"People have their houses closed up, air conditioner going, television going. A lot of people have said that they don't even hear it," said Saunders. "If you stop and think about it, just look around and think, okay, if we place one here in this area, how many people would hear it. And how many tornado sirens would we have to place out in the county to cover the whole county so everybody could hear it. So, if you start thinking about it in that light, then you would realize that it really isn't feasible to go in that direction."

NewsChannel 3 also spoke to Gloucester County Emergency Management. They say tornado sirens are very expensive to maintain and not worth the costs for the number of tornadoes we typically see in Hampton Roads.  And with technology, like downloading the NewsChannel 3 app, you can get weather alerts right at your finger tips.