(Coahoma Co., MS) We know all too well how quickly severe storms and even tornadoes can strike in the Mid-Douth.
People who live in rural areas often don’t have the benefit of a siren system to provide an early warning.
Now, that concern is a thing of the past for folks in five small towns near Clarksdale, Miss.
“There’s one in Friar’s Point, one at Coahoma, one at Lula, one at Lyon and one in Jonestown,” says John Tarzi, emergency management director for Coahoma County.
He says each of these towns has a brand new tornado warning siren.
Tarzi says they’re designed to alert people in rural Coahoma County to the threat of tornadoes and other disasters.
“These are small communities out there, a couple of thousand people and they’re just really on their own,” he explained.
The sirens, mounted atop 55-foot poles, are activated by radio signal from one of two offices in Clarksdale.
Tarzi explains that with the touch of a button, all five sirens can be activated. The sirens can also be turned on individually.
The sirens have a battery back-up and a voice command feature.
“For instance the town of Friar’s Point. it’s right on the Mississippi River levee and if it ever had a breach or the levee started to deteriorate, we could set the siren off and also tell the people what’s going on,” Tarzi said.
A FEMA grant helped Coahoma County get these sirens.
They were tested June 5th for the first time, and the system worked without a hitch.
Josephine Cosby, an alderwoman in Jonestown, Miss., made sure her friends knew about the test.
“I had made an announcement in church and they were aware of it, most of them were,” she said.
One of the new sirens stands just two blocks from her house.
She’s been working with Tarzi for the past year and half to get the warning system
“We can’t, you know, avoid things happening,” she said. “But at least we can get in a safe place and try to be as safe as we possibly can.”
The sirens will only sound during a tornado warning, but Tarzi says the public should be prepared for monthly tests
“Once a month on Wednesday at high noon,” he said.