The recent tornado outbreak has Lubbock citizens concerned about their safety. With no tornado sirens in the Hub City, it has now become a hot-button issue.
"When the tornadoes struck at Moore, we realized real quick that we didn't have a tornado warning system here - that we were dependent totally on cell phone communications and TV," said Kelly Jennings.
District 3 City Councilmember Todd Klein held a coffee with the citizens on Saturday at Market Street on 19th Street and Quaker Avenue to address the issue.
"Overwhelmingly, I'm hearing people say, 'Yeah, we want sirens,'" Klein said. "It does add value and it is indeed affordable. We have a large enough budget that money isn't a determinative issue when it comes to a core public safety issue such as sirens."
The room was packed with people firing off questions and voicing their concerns.
"It's priority. It ought to be priority number one for the community and for the surrounding area," said Jennings.
With the flurry of tornados recently, and the catastrophe they leave in their path, Klein says his goal is to have the sirens implemented as early as next tornado season.
"We need to be prepared. Plan for the worst and hope for the best, but you need to get going on that issue sooner rather than later," Klein said.
"We have too many people coming into our cities for sporting events, hundreds of thousands come into shop from surrounding towns, we owe them that protection. We owe our senior citizens who need that protection because they don't have access to cell phones and other kind of technology that younger folks do," Jennings said.
Klein says there is a request for a proposal already in motion. Now they're figuring out the logistics.
Klein asked, "What is the scope of availability in terms of any products? How readily available are they? What options are there in terms of vendor selection?"
"I was really surprised that they had already started the process within the city council to get this on the go and get it up by next year tornado season," Jennings said.
Klein says the money will come from local taxpayer dollars and the entire system will cost a few million dollars. But he says it's a small price to pay for core public safety.
"It's priority one of any government, it should be. And so it's within our scope and our top priority. I think it's appropriate for us to fund it and I think we can certainly afford it when you look at revenues that we derive and the ability to finance it," Klein said.
Klein says each siren will costs approximately 25,000.
"So you can then extrapolate out what the cost might be. If you can get one for every square mile? Or are there products out there that night allow two or three miles coverage? That will be another logistical question that's going to require a lot if research and a lot of expertise," he said.
On Thursday, KCBD launched its "Support Our Sirens" campaign, aimed at sending a petition in support of sirens to City Hall. The petition is available here: http://bit.ly/10EFaaS.
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