Goll raises alarm about city emergency sirens

SALEM — Apparently there was an issue with the city’s emergency siren when the severe storm hit Sunday, bringing wind, rain and hail to pound the city.

“The sirens went off, just not when they should have,” city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said Tuesday.

The issue was raised during the city council meeting by Councilman Geoff Goll, who asked for an explanation as to why the warning signal didn’t go off and the fact that the “siren was broken?” He referred to a social media post by the police department and asked Kenst what the alternatives are for letting people know there’s an emergency.

At 5:31 p.m. Sunday, Salem Police posted on social media that the city’s tornado siren was not functioning correctly and that the technician was aware and was working to correct the issue. Residents were told that with the tornado watch, they should use a link to the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency to receive severe weather alerts and to also stay tuned to the police department’s social media page for weather alerts.

The messages that followed from the police included a severe weather storm warning for the county at 5:41 p.m. and a plea at 7:19 p.m. for people to stay home due to trees and lines being down all over the city. The fire department also issued a post telling residents to treat all downed power lines as live and to avoid them, noting numerous trees and power lines and poles down.

Kenst responded by saying the siren was not broken. He explained that the new police radios were just installed and when a dispatcher switched to a different channel, the siren was cut off but was fixed that night.

Goll commented that there are towns that have alternatives for warning folks and asked if the police could speak while out in their cars to give warnings over a loudspeaker.

Kenst referred him to WENS, the free Wireless Emergency Alerts system offered through the Columbiana County EMA as a means to receive text messages, voice calls and emails in case of an emergency or severe weather. The system is hooked into the National Weather Service for tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings or other warnings that would be issued. The city also can use the system to alert residents to an emergency in the city, such as an active shooter situation or need to evacuate for a hazardous materials threat.

Just last month, Police Chief J.T. Panezott reminded residents to sign up.

Go to https://entry.inspironlogistics.com/columbiana–oh/wens.cfm to sign up for Columbiana County alerts.

“This is something everybody in town should sign up for,” Kenst said.



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