St. Louis County finds coverage gaps in new weather warning syst - KMOV.com

St. Louis County finds coverage gaps in new weather warning system

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- The threat of severe weather Wednesday night had some people on edge. Some residents say they still can't hear St. Louis County's warning sirens. Keep in mind, the county spent millions of dollars to put in a new network of sirens.

A siren at the top of a hill, not far from Olive and Interstate 270 in West St. Louis County, might need some extra help -- from a new siren nearby. It's just one of several areas the county is now retesting after neighbors complained that sirens didn't sound a loud enough alarm.

Taxpayers foot the bill for a $7.5 million upgrade to the county's weather warning sirens, but Creve Coeur homeowner Glen Krewet can't tell the difference.

"If you're close you can hear them, but if you're far away, you can't really hear them," Krewet says.

The county tested -- and retested -- the entire system and found some holes.

"We received phone calls from folks saying 'we couldn't hear anything,' and any area that we received more than one 'can't hear' call, we went back and looked at those," Dave Wrone, public information office for the St. Louis County Highways and Traffic division, says. "We've got almost complete coverage, but not total coverage so that's what we're looking at right now."

Wrone says 14 of the 185 sirens need a second listen. Wrone says the county is happy with how the new system is working but is still considering adding about five additional sirens to fill the gaps.  Emergency director Duff Barney wouldn't give us a list of the areas that will be retested, because he says he's concerned about alarming residents unnecessarily.

"We do want to emphasize that if people can't hear the sirens and they're inside, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a failure because these are outdoor sirens," Wrone says.

Each new siren will cost $38,000 -- money the county says it has readily available from the Emergency Communication Sales Tax passed in 2009. The county has yet to put a time frame up for the installation of new sirens, because the plan must first go before the Emergency Communications Commission for approval. A "few months" is the best time frame the county could offer.

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