Sirens sought for city

Published 3:26 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

Residents along a stretch of central and north Alabama may have had a few minutes to brace for the storms that left millions of dollars in damage and several fatalities behind in April. Weather sirens situated in those areas may have been the only warning many residents had as the deadly storm approached.
Spinks Megginson, a member of the Brewton Storm Ready committee, is working as part of the committee and as a private citizen to secure weather sirens for the Brewton/East Brewton area. Sirens currently positioned in the area don’t function and some form of warning is needed when severe weather approaches, he said.
“Right now we have three weather sirens in the area that aren’t working,” Megginson said. “The sirens here now were first put up in the 1990s and they have never been used. Upgrading them isn’t feasible since the technology for weather sirens has improved so much since that time. New sirens would be needed to provide adequate service for the area.”
Megginson has been on the hunt for securing weather sirens for more than a year having made presentations to committees, organizations and the Brewton City Council.
“After all of the research that I’ve done it’s been determined that our area would require at least six sirens to cover our town,” Megginson said. “The sirens are very expensive and we have a long way to go to get the funds to put them in place.”
Megginson said one ray of hope for the project is the recent announcement of the planned release of funds for such projects at weather sirens and storm shelters by the Federal Hazard Mitigation Fund.
“We are hopeful that we can secure some of those funds from that,” Megginson said. “We will be applying for grants and doing what we can to get funding for the siren project here in the Brewton and East Brewton area.”
Although the process to bring the sirens to the area have already taken more than a year with little progress, Megginson said he is hopeful and confident that the process will prove successful for the community.
“It has been a very slow process up to this point,” Megginson said. “Anytime you have to work with state and federal government it’s going to be a slow process. But, I believe that if we stay with the program we will be able to secure funding and get sirens in place to help safeguard our community.”
Megginson has been working with State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, and U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile to move through the process. Funding that may be granted through the FHMF will be channeled through the Escambia County Emergency Management Agency.
“I will be working closely with David Adams with our EMA office here on this project,” Megginson said. “If we get funding from the grants it will be channeled through his office.”
Although Megginson said he hopes that grant funding would cover the majority of the cost for erecting sirens in the area, there is a chance that not all expenses will be covered.
“We’d like to see the sirens on steel poles,” Megginson said. “But, that kind of pole would add several thousand dollars to the cost of putting up just one siren. The grant funding wouldn’t cover that so we are probably looking at wooden poles for now. If we are short in funding for the sirens, we may be meeting with groups and organizations to seek additional funds.”
Megginson said the dream of seeing weather sirens in place for the communities is one he believes in for the safety of friends, family and neighbors.
“It’s been proven that weather sirens can save lives,” Megginson said. “That’s what we want to see.”

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