Tammy Mutasa, Garland Journalist
The City of Garland is debating if outdoor warning sirens are the best way to warn the public of dangerous weather.
In North Texas, the sound of a tornado siren means to take cover, but the City of Garland is debating whether that is the best warning for its residents.
Right now, the 18 outdoor sirens in Garland do not work because they have deteriorated over time. The City Council met Tuesday night in a work session to discuss which is the best option for the city.
For residents, the idea of not having the outdoor sirens meant a safety net being taken away.
"It is a concern because otherwise we would not know,” said 70-year-old Garland Resident Jennifer Dosser.
"It does concern me, it does, there's still possibilities of disasters going on—natural disasters," said Toni Rideout.
The issue is whether the city should replace the existing sirens and add about 10 more to fully cover the city. The cost is estimated at a million dollars. Alternatively, the city can get the sirens where people gather outdoors—like at parks. The cost for those sirens are estimated at $500,000.
Councilman Rick Williams wants to completely get rid of sirens and focus on newer technology.
"Budget is a factor,” said Williams. “But even if budget wasn't a factor I still have serious, serious doubts about spending a million or a half million dollars on Garland taxpayer money on an outdoor warning system when there are better alternatives."
The city is pushing for residents to register for a reverse 9-1-1system called Code Red which send automated message alerts to phones, in the event of severe weather.
Garland Emergency Management said having multiple ways to warn people is most effective.
"Our ultimate goal is to have a diverse and comprehensive warning system that involves all type of media," said Mollie Rivas from Garland Emergency Management. “The broadcast media, NOAA radios, code red warning systems, social media and possibly sirens."
Council is also looking at getting weather radios for those citizens who can’t afford to buy them. The city will be discussing the sirens at their Capital Improvements meetings later this month.
They add there isn’t a state rule that cities have to maintain working sirens.