Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Townships want tornado warnings


Grant sought to purchase sirens

BY MICHAEL D. CLARK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County emergency officials say they are not waiting to see a tornado devastate Liberty or Union townships before trying to do something about such a disaster.

        Neither township has tornado warning sirens. But that may soon change if a grant requested by the Butler County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is approved next month.

        Dale Stewart, administrative assistant for the county EMA, said his agency has coordinated a grant request of more than $258,000 to the state for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for 18 emergency sirens and radio equipment to operate them for the two townships.

        The sirens are needed to enhance public safety of residents and workers in the fast-growing southeastern Butler County townships.

        “We need this, especially as the areas become more densely populated,” Mr. Stewart said.

        Liberty and Union townships have seen an estimated 28 percent increase in com bined population since 1996, he said. In that year, population in the two townships was estimated at 64,000 and now is thought to total about 82,000.

        According to the 1990 census, Union Township's population was 39,703; Liberty's was 9,200.

        Fairfield recently installed four emergency sirens. Three other Butler County municipalities — Oxford, Hamilton and Monroe — already operate tornado warning sirens.

        Should the grant money be made available, 10 of the 18 sirens would be installed throughout Union Township and eight in Liberty. If FEMA funding isn't approved, officials from each township have said they would try to pay for sirens themselves.

        Each of the sirens costs about $15,000, which includes a 50-foot pole and installation costs. Each siren would project a warning sound that could be heard over a four-mile radius.

        Two tornado warning sirens failed to operate when a tornado cut through the tiny Clermont County village of Felicity in July 1997. Property damage was extensive, but no one was hurt.

        Unfortunately, Mr. Stewart said, even if Butler County's grant request is approved by FEMA, the sirens would not be installed until late August because of the time needed to solicit construction bids.

       



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