LOOGOOTEE – Former Loogootee mayor Brian Ader sounded the alarm about the lack of warning sirens during Monday night’s meeting of the Loogootee Board of Public Works and Safety.
Ader specifically mentioned the violent storms which swept across several states Feb. 20, resulting in tornado warnings in many locations, including Martin and Daviess counties.
While radio and television stations began reporting tornado warnings about 7:30 p.m. that day, Ader said the Loogootee warning sirens were not activated until about 8:15 p.m. The storm’s high winds hit the city less than five minutes later.
Ader believes the sirens should have been sounded earlier, as was done in Washington. He said a lot of people were still driving on the nearby roads when the storm hit. He was thankful nobody was hurt or killed by the storm, but believes the public should have been warned sooner.
“We need to give the citizens of Loogootee as much warning as possible,” Ader said. “If they don’t listen to it, then that’s their own fault.”
Police Chief Kelly Rayhill said he was one of four people authorized to activate the city’s warning sirens. The other three are Mayor Noel Harty, Fire Chief Morgan Huebner and the on-duty police officer.
Councilman Fred Dupps said there have been times in the past when the sirens have been sounded too early and for too long. People then begin to doubt the legitimacy of the alarm and don’t respond properly. The loud alarms can also be aggravating to those living nearby.
Ader asked the board to revise its policy concerning warning sirens so they would be tested once a week. He said 90 percent of the time city officials have done a good job warning the public about approaching storms, but believes they dropped the ball on this occasion.