AMERICUS, GA (WTVM) - Sumter County officials are working hard to keep their residents safe when severe weather strikes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the county funds to purchase warning sirens.
As the three year anniversary of the tornado that swept through Americus approaches, county officials are working to keep residents safer. Sumter County's EMA Director Pete Smith tells News Leader Nine they now have a grant for weather sirens, "We've been notified we'll get 18 sirens in the county, placed strategically where you can hear them up to a mile."
For the past eight years, Pete Smith and his Emergency Management team have applied for funding to put these sirens throughout Sumter County. He explained, "When FEMA came in and saw the disaster we had from the March 1st tornado they said we should qualify for these early warning devices."
Right now the only sirens in the area are on Georgia Southwestern's campus. The college's Director of Risk Manager Arthur Clark said the choice to purchase the sirens was a no-brainer, "After the tornado we just bit the bullet and put them in. We've got two towers, one on the north end of campus and one on the south end of campus."
With a pattern of tornadoes touching down in the county over the past few years, Arthur Clark says the early warnings have paid off, "They've been a real asset to us, we feel, for various reasons. We've had to set them off frequently for severe weather."
Smith says the $600,000 worth of equipment will help warn the majority of residents in the area, "They're going to be put in densely populated areas throughout the city and county. We are working with FEMA and locating those areas."
Smith adds, the sirens should be installed within the next few months and will act as just another way to keep people safe during severe weather.