Glitch At Port Of Catoosa Sends Storms Sirens Wailing

Tuesday, May 6th 2014, 10:38 pm
By: Tess Maune

A glitch sent storms sirens wailing off and on for days in Catoosa. The sirens at the Port of Catoosa screamed out several times over the weekend, once in the middle of the night.

The sirens were installed, in part, to protect the 4,000 people who work at the Port, but also to send warnings to the many neighborhoods that wouldn't hear a siren otherwise.

It's a neighborhood with a view that goes on for miles.

"We are just up the hill, I mean, it's just directly down the bottom of this hill," said Catoosa resident, Missy Coy.

Coy's front yard looks out over the waterway of The Port of Catoosa.

There are some days when pipes clinking from the ship yard below can be heard up at her place; that's not the norm, though. She said it's usually quiet, but her typically quiet community had a little extra commotion over the weekend, when the Port's storm sirens fired up five different times.

The weather, of course was perfect, but in Oklahoma, you can ever be too sure.

"I just kept watching the news just in case it was a storm coming. I just didn't know what to think," Coy said.

Port of Catoosa Deputy Director, David Yarborough, said, "It's a terrible thing that that happened, I know that it's a very disconcerting noise to hear in the middle of the night."

Yarborough said interference with their radio transmitter prompted the sirens to sound unexpectedly.

People at the Port can manually set off the sirens, but that's not how the warnings are typically triggered. Instead, the Port has teamed up with the Catoosa fire department, so when the city's sirens are turned on, a signal is sent to a radio at the Port, activating the warning system there.

"It really is just a series of short, digital sounds is how the system communicates," Yarborough said.

This weekend, Yarborough believes another agency was using the same radio frequency, and the same split second tones, causing the false alarms.

Now the radio is at the repair shop for some fine-tuning, but with the punch of a button, the sirens will still send out their warnings.

The radio channel the Port uses is an open channel. They test the sirens every Monday at noon.

Those who live within about a mile of the Port can sign up for its emergency notification system; you just need to call the business office.