Amarillo tornado sirens cost $25,000 each; is Lubbock ready? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Amarillo tornado sirens cost $25,000 each; is Lubbock ready?

AMARILLO, TX (KCBD) -

With 90 tornado sirens spread across the metropolitan area of Amarillo, parts of Potter County and parts of Randall County, most people in Amarillo know when severe weather is on the way.

"We heard the sirens go off. That's when we switched over to see what our local weather was at the time and see exactly where the cloud was - but that was our first warning last night," said Amarillo resident Jeff Wiley. "We had the TV going and we still heard it."

The system has been in place since the 1950s. With updated technology, the Amarillo area currently has 13 different types of tornado sirens, with the newest models costing $25,000, installation included. Maintenance on parts alone costs $10,000 a year.

Amarillo residents we spoke with love them. They say the system gives them peace of mind.

"If there was a tornado on the ground, we had time to take cover," Jeff said.

"Without it, sometimes people wouldn't be alerted at all," said Amarillo resident Paul Summer.

Martin Barreras has a daughter that goes to Texas Tech. He feared for her life when he realized Lubbock had no working tornado sirens.

"I was actually shocked," he said. "Y'all get the same kind of weather we get right here. I mean, we're only an hour and a half away."

But what do Lubbockites think of the idea?

"We have a family and we need to have a warning to be able to get somewhere to take care of our own," one couple said.

"I think it'll help out a lot of people. When I used to live in Amarillo, it was just a quick heads up, even if it was 10 minutes or so it just easily lets people know."

People we spoke with in Amarillo said the sirens gave them roughly a 15-minute warning that severe weather was on the way last night - the same amount of time that has been reported in Moore, Oklahoma and Grandbury, Texas.

But Amarillo Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Starbuck warns us that tornado sirens do have limitations.

"The system is primarily designed so that it provides a level of warning to everybody in the community, primarily if they're outdoors moving through the community, out at parks golf courses etc. That's where the system is really meeting its niche. If you're in your home, you're cooking dinner, you've got family playing, you're watching TV - you can't rely on this system to be your only means of warning," he said

If Lubbock were to install the same 90 sirens that Amarillo has at the $25,000 figure it comes out to around $2.2 million dollars.

Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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