4 cities install tornado sirens ahead of severe weather season

Four cities in Monroe County will have tornado sirens in time for the upcoming severe weather season.

Wednesday, Vonore's city staff tested their three tornado sirens. Tellico Plains will test their sirens on March 4th. Madisonville and Sweetwater have already tested their systems.

"This came together because we had a lot of good people working and it came a very minimal cost to the town," said Vonore Mayor Larry Summey.

The Tennessee Valley Authority donated 27 sirens to cities in Monroe County, Rockwood, and Elgin, Alabama after they renovated the systems at their nuclear sites.

In Monroe County, the 911 call center can and will send a radio signal to the specific tower where severe weather is threatening.

Vonore experienced some minor complications with one siren on their test, but Mayor Summey said he expects the kinks to be repaired by the end of the week.

Although Mayor Summey did not plan it, Wednesday is Tornado Safety Day as part of the National Weather Service's Severe Weather Awareness week.

In many schools, including Vonore Elementary, students also practiced tornado drills.

"We pride ourselves on being a safe school and weather is something we don't have very much control over. It's something we have to be prepared for ahead of time and the sirens will give us a better timing of when we need to be in the hallway out of the classrooms and away from windows," said Vonore Elementary Principal Mark Pickel.

Tornadoes destroyed parts of Tellico Plains in 2012 and nearby Greenback in 2011. The storms are still fresh on Mayor Summey's mind.

"A warning system of this type has the potential to save a lot of lives," said Mayor Summey. "It's a great service for the community and we're proud to have it."

According to the National Weather Service, historically, the spring months - especially March, April, and May - are the most active for severe weather throughout Tennessee.


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