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Without warning

By Staff
City needs 17 additional weather sirens
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
More than three years after kicking off the drive to have weather sirens in Hartselle, much of the city remains without coverage.
Currently, there is only one severe weather siren in Hartselle. It was paid for with grant funds the city received because the siren serves a low-income area. The city misses out on other grant funds because of higher income levels in those areas.
Seventeen additional sirens will be needed to cover the rest of the city. The estimated cost of those sirens is $325,000. The sirens are part of the city's capital improvement plan, a document adopted last year that details a list of projects but doesn't say how they will be funded.
According to Mayor Clif Knight, the city was recently denied funds through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for the additional sirens. He said the city plans to reapply next year.
In the meantime, officials are working with Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Alabama, to receive funds through a special fund set aside to help states recovering from natural disasters.
"(The sirens) are one of the projects we've brought to the attention of our congressmen," Knight said. "We're pushing real hard to get help."
Knight said a Federal Emergency Management Agency program could give the city as much as $210,000, enough to pay for 11 sirens.
"We hope right now we can get money for the 11 sirens and still hopeful we can receive money for the rest," he said.
The grant process will take time, however, and most of the city will be unserved as we head into the state's most active severe weather season.
From April 7 – May 18, 2003 the National Weather Service Center issued 210 tornado warnings; 407 severe thunderstorm warnings; and 131 flash flood warnings. Those numbers account for 66 percent of all tornado warnings issued last year; 42 percent of all severe thunderstorm warnings; and 49 percent of all flash flood warnings.
Feb. 23-27 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Alabama. The week is sponsored by the National Weather Service, Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross and is designed to raise awareness of severe weather safety.