Lubbock mayor wants tornado warning system back in budget talks - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock mayor wants tornado warning system back in budget talks

Old tornado siren from 1970s (Source: KCBD Video) Old tornado siren from 1970s (Source: KCBD Video)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

In the wake of deadly tornadoes in Canton this weekend, Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope says the discussion of an outdoor emergency warning system is back on the agenda.

Just under a year ago, on June 1, 2016, after historic flooding in Lubbock, Mayor Pope released a statement saying he planned to bring up the topic of installing an early warning system during city budget meetings.

Monday, Mayor Pope told us while there wasn't an opportunity to add tornado sirens into this year's budget, he says he hopes they can find a place for an emergency siren system when they begin talking about next year's budget.

"It's about public safety, it's about what is a life worth? And I think we're in the business to, we're elected to try to make decisions to best provide safety for our citizens. I think that's what something like this could do," Mayor Pope said.

Pope says Lubbock is the only city of more than 200,000 people in 'Tornado Alley' that doesn't have some type of outdoor warning system.

And while we have remnants of the old system that was present during the devastating tornado of 1970, no action has been taken to install a new system.

Mayor Pope says he still supports an outdoor system, but that the money isn't there right now.

"We've got to make it work in our budget. I think that's the challenge. We have a very tight budget; I don't think there's an appetite for issuing debt around this. That's where our council is. We're trying real hard to live within our means," Mayor Pope said.

Mayor Pope says he believes the most effective system would include more than just an outdoor warning siren.

Dr. Ernst Kiesling, a research professor at Texas Tech's National Wind Institute, agrees with that.

"The siren system may or may not be effective depending where you are when they go off. So, I think we need to look at all the alternatives. I would make the point for a warning system, that a warning doesn't do you much good if you have no place to go," Dr. Kiesling said.

Dr. Kiesling, Executive Director for the National Storm Shelter Association, strongly believes in having a storm shelter.

"When you have a tornado coming at you don't worry if it's a F3 or F5, you seek protection. I think that is the benefit of having storm protection and having a plan...it gives you a peace of mind 24/7 of knowing what to do and where to go," he said.

Mayor Pope says he does plan to push for this topic when budget meetings begin again in July.

"I can't support new taxes right now. I do believe that if we can find a way to operate more efficiently to free up some money to make this investment, then I would be very supportive of that," Mayor Pope said.

Mayor Pope says for this to be successful, they would need a group of citizens backing it.

Mayor Pope says he is open to hearing public comments on this. You can find his office contact information here: https://www.ci.lubbock.tx.us/city-council/mayor

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