New tornado sirens coming to Salina

SALINA – The aftermath of last week’s tornado is still apparent in parts of Saline county. Overturned trucks, farm equipment and buildings that were destroyed are all still a part of the scenery. Now, the attention for the area, in particular Salina, is shifting towards proactive changes.

In Salina, there are 17 tornado sirens, of those 17 there are 13 that are at least 20 years old. Usually, the city would replace them one by one as they malfunction, but currently they’re talking to two vendors to figure out how they can replace all of them at once after dealing with malfunctioning equipment.

“We have seen some inconsistency with that,” said Salina city manager, Jason Gage. “We need to be sure that if we send an activation that all the sirens that should go off and warn people do go off and warn people that’s one thing, but really its the reliability with the old system.”

The new sirens have new features–the even can allow pre-recorded messages or live audio. “We could potentially use the system for more than just a tornado type warning,” said Gage. “We could also use it for hazardous material situation in a particular part of town  or maybe a localized flooding event.”

Unfortunately, those areas hit hardest by the storm won’t be able to reap the benefits of this upgrade unless the county extends the program or those individual cities are able to pay for the system.

“We do have educational programs out there to give you options as far as what you can do to stay informed, but with the siren upgrade that will be coming with the city of Salina,” said Saline County Emergency Management Director, Hannah Stambaugh, “obviously that is very welcomed, and those opportunities to purchase sirens in our other incorporated cities will be extended to those cities.”

As far as an official timeline, officials with the city say they are still working out all of the details, but they do plan to have all of the sirens up before the next storm season rolls around next year.