SWEETWATER (WATE) – As we head into severe weather season, the town of Sweetwater wanted to make sure its tornado sirens are all in working order. The Monroe County town has four sirens, three of which were donated after previously being used by TVA.
Wednesday was a beautiful day in Monroe County, but people there know how quickly the weather can change. Three years ago, an EF2 tornado touched down in Tellico Plains, damaging more than a hundred homes.
In nearby Sweetwater, emergency officials set off Wednesday at noon to check the town’s four tornado sirens installed in 2013. One didn’t go off. When firefighters checked the power box, they found the breaker was still off after the siren was recently repaired. A simple fix and the second test was a success.
“We want to be ready for tornado season and the bad weather that’s coming and we know it’s going to come sooner or later,” said Mayor Doyle Lowe.
The mayor says the sirens were activated twice last year.
“We have our police officers and firemen always monitoring what’s going on with the weather. So if there is a tornado that has touched down in a nearby area, we are fully alerted. If one has been sighted, a tornado, or one has been on the ground, that is criteria to set off the alarm system,” Lowe said.
They’re still tweaking the system. They’ve moved two of the sirens to increase their coverage area and they know, if the power goes out, the sirens won’t work.
“That is something hopefully in future we’ll be able to remedy maybe with a solar cell,” Lowe said.
Wednesday’s test was heard loud and clear downtown. Lifelong Sweetwater resident Carol Akins says she feels better knowing this warning system is in place.
“I don’t know what I dread most, this season or the ice storm. There’s no siren for the ice storm,” Akins said.
The town of Sweetwater also has a call and text system called Code Red for severe weather they encourage citizens to sign up for.
You just register your phone number, and anytime there is a warning in the area you will receive a call either on your home phone or your cell phone.
Also no matter where you live, you can sign up for severe weather alerts using the Knoxville Weather app.