Residents: Why no tornado sirens in Gordon County? - CBS46 News

Residents: Why no tornado sirens in Gordon County?

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GORDON COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Residents in Gordon County who were hard hit by a tornado this week are questioning why there are no tornado sirens in the area.

A tornado ripped through the county on Wednesday and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.  It is the second tornado to hit the area in a little over a year.

"I always thought that they did have the siren that went off before, and I didn't hear it this time," said Jami Waters, whose sister's home was lifted off the foundation and destroyed.

Officials told CBS Atlanta that the county did use a siren system until a few years ago but that it was too expensive to operate and could not be heard inside homes.

"It's not the county government's responsibility to notify people of bad weather," said Richard Cooper, director of the Emergency Management Agency.  "It is a service we try to provide to help our citizens.  It's each individual's responsibility to stay up to date on what's happening around them and their surroundings." 

Cooper said the county now uses a system called Code Red.  It alerts residents to severe weather via their cell phones, but they must sign up for it first.

However, some residents criticized the cell phone alert system.

"When you hear it (the tornado siren), you just know," said resident Shelby Waters.  "You don't always have your phone on you, but when you hear that sound, you just know."

In the meantime, residents continued cleaning up on Friday.

"Too expensive?" Jami Waters said when told the county did not want to pay for tornado sirens.  "Look around in the neighborhood.  It's too expensive?  Just look and they say it's too expensive? Look at the lives that could have been lost.  We are lucky.  We are lucky."

Cooper said next month the county is launching a campaign to educate people about the Code Red system and sign them up.

"It has to take an actual physical person to turn around and actually punch in a code to a box to actually set the sirens, so there's a little bit of a delay to have a person to do that," said Cooper.  "With the Code Red system, there's no delay.

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