Oregon council on Monday approved local funding that will pay for part of the installation of four more warning sirens in the city.
Oregon currently has five sirens, which were deemed inadequate after a resident from Starr Avenue told council at a meeting last Nov. 25 that he did not hear tornado sirens go on when a tornado tore through the city on Nov. 17, causing property damage.
The Lucas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) last summer applied and was approved for a federal grant to fund the installation of additional warning sirens throughout the county. As part of the grant, Oregon agreed to provide a local match of $11,500 per siren for a total of $46,000.
“This opportunity availed itself to us in mid summer when we were approached by Lucas County EMA Director Matthew Heyrman, who asked us if we were interested in participating in a grant with other cities and townships in Lucas County to add additional sirens,” explained Police Chief Mike Navarre. “After speaking with Administrator Mike Beazley and Mayor Mike Seferian at that time, we indicated that we did.”
Fire Chief Ed Ellis looked at a map to determine the best locations for the new sirens, said Navarre.
“We asked for four sirens, and didn’t anticipate we were going to get approved for all of them, but we were. That was about the same time the tornado went through. We were told last week by Matt Heyrman that we needed to get an ordinance before council prior to the end of this month in order for him to accept the grant.”
The new sirens will be stronger and cover more land area. The sound will travel within a one mile radius compared to the half mile radius of the current sirens.
The sirens will be installed at Starr Elementary School at Starr and S. Coy, Eagles Landing at N. Stadium and Eagles Landing, at Parkegelande Estates at Pickle Road one half mile west of S. Wynn Road, and Cedar Point Development Park at Parkway Road and Blue Heron PT.
The November tornado was one of three that struck the area. The width of the EF2 tornado in Oregon was 150-200 yards and had an estimated maximum wind of between 120-125 mph. There were no reports of injuries, but some trees were uprooted and several homes were damaged in the aftermath of the storm.
Lucas County currently has 119 emergency outdoor warning sirens, which are owned by the jurisdiction in which they reside, though they are maintained and operated by the county. The grant will fund the purchase and installation of 14 emergency outdoor warning sirens in Lucas County, including the four in Oregon and one at the Jerusalem Township Fire Station at 9501 Jerusalem Rd. The new siren at the fire station will replace a failing one. It provides three pronged alerting for general, fire and Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station emergencies.
The 119 sirens currently in place provide coverage to 83 percent of the population and 62 percent of the land area of the county. Lucas County falls within a wind zone that represents an area in the country that experiences both the greatest number and strength of tornadoes with maximum wind speeds of 250 mph. When all 14 new sirens are installed, emergency warning siren coverage of the population will increase from 83 percent to 94 percent, and from 62 percent to 77 percent of the land area in the county.
Councilman James Seaman said the new sirens will fill in the gaps in coverage that have been a concern for some residents over the years.
“These four sirens are quite welcome. We’ve had at different times people comment that they did not hear the sirens. Over the years, I’ve heard that concern at least half a dozen times. I’m anticipating a safer community because of this,” said Seaman.
The installation of the sirens will start on April 1 and be completed by May 15.