Emergency Officials Failed To Activate Storm Siren

Friday, March 9th 2007, 10:04 am
By: News On 6

AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) _ City officials called off plans to activate a warning siren minutes before a powerful tornado plowed through town last week, killing two people, crippling a hospital and causing widespread property damage.

City clerk Paula Martin said a firefighter was dispatched to sound the town's single storm warning siren, mounted atop the Americus Municipal Building, but supervisors feared it was already too late and called him back.

Even if the antique alarm had been sounded, it was only loud enough to be heard in the downtown area and most likely would not have been heard over the roar of the tornado, said City Administrator Charlotte Cotton.

Storm trackers estimate the March 1 tornado cut a destructive 38-mile-long trail through southwestern Georgia before striking Americus, Cotton said.

``It's hard to go back and see what might have happened if we had more warning,'' she said. ``But a countywide warning system is a project worth looking at.''

If local officials could find a way to pay for an improved system, perhaps with the help of state or federal disaster agencies, ``I think it may be a good idea,'' she said.