Middle TN residents complain of broken tornado sirens in storms - WSMV Channel 4

Middle TN residents complain of broken tornado sirens during storms

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Several homes in Coble, TN, were destroyed in an EF-2 tornado Several homes in Coble, TN, were destroyed in an EF-2 tornado
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

People expect to hear sirens when a twister gets close, but early Wednesday morning in Coble, TN, that warning never came.

"They have been tested two to three times and worked then, but they've never gone off when we've had warnings," said a woman whose home was seriously damaged by the storm. 

Channel 4 News started asking questions and found out the sirens in Hickman County run on electricity. The electricity was out because of the storm.

According to the emergency management director, backup batteries cost money and have to be replaced every five years. Hickman County, he said, can't afford it.

Several people in Mount Juliet complained as well.

An EF-2 touched down and several residents said the sirens never sounded.

On Thursday, county officials went around testing each siren in Wilson County individually. Each one they've tested so far has worked.

"We want those tornado sirens to sound when they're supposed to sound and if they're not working the way they should, we want to know why, and we want to fix it," said Steve Spencer, the weather operations coordinator for Wilson County.  

Checking around the Mid-state, Davidson and Rutherford counties have backup batteries for their sirens.

In Wilson County, the ones in Mt. Juliet have backup batteries, but some out in the county do not.

Clarksville's sirens have backup batteries, but out in the county, they don't have sirens all. Those residents must rely on weather radios instead.

"We really want to promote the NOAA weather radio," said Spencer.

It's the only real way to go, according to many area emergency management directors, who say tornado sirens are strategically placed to warn people outside, but you aren't supposed to hear them inside your homes.

"We have sirens that are at the schools, and a lot of schools have ball fields around them," said Spencer. 

Even FEMA doesn't consider tornado sirens a valid indoor warning source, so if you're relying on them to stay safe while inside, don't. Weather radios will actually warn you sooner than a siren could, because it takes time for officials to sounds the sirens. Many radios sell for about $30 to $80, and many emergency departments will even help you program your radio correctly.

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