Augusta utilizes 3 weather sirens for more than 200,000 people

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News 12 First at Five/ Monday, July 7, 2014


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- In the event of severe weather, Augusta's Fire chief says some people can't hear potentially life saving sirens.

The city began talks to figure how many they need and the cost.

Cell phone video captured sirens blaring as a tornado touched down in an Iowa town just yesterday. In South Augusta, many people wouldn't hear a siren because the city doesn't own any.

"If you do put sirens in where is the money coming from? Where is the money coming from? The county is in a pinch now," said Augusta resident Carl Benjamin.

Benjamin lives in Augusta now, but a few years ago he says this was a pretty common sight when he lived in Oklahoma.

"It's definitely worth it. I was in Oklahoma for about three years and they have sirens out there. The sirens saved many lives out there," Benjamin said.

Augusta Fire-chief Chris James wants the city to do the same thing. This is his second time in a year he's trying to get the commission approve the sirens.

"I think having the sirens just makes us better prepared," said fire chief Chris James.

Chief James told commissioners the city needs to apply for a grant that could help pay for 50 to 60 severe weather sirens. The sirens would alert neighbors about a tornado, chemical or any other natural disaster.

The area does have three sirens but they're not owned by the county. News 12 found Macon with 100,000 less people than Augusta and has more than 50 sirens. Chatham County has 62 sirens that 95 percent of population can hear.

"They do have the text alert system," Benjamin said.

Chief James told commissioners that only 45,000 residents have signed up for the county's severe weather alert text system.

"If your power is out then your television isn't working. It's not an adequate program for 100 percent notification," said Chief James.

James says the earlier the warning the better.

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