Lackluster alert from the town for tornado warning

bella

I'm cross posting this, as I already posted this earlier on Facebook, but wanted to reach as many residents as possible:

Following last night’s tornado warning & the severely delayed nixel alert & lack of civil defense sirens, I’ve already called town hall to:

1) express my concerns

2) suggest that we reinstate the weekly test of the sirens (it used to be weekly on Saturday at  noon)

 

We can’t rely on smart phones as the alert from the town was late & there are people who don’t use smart phones. And people need to know what a civil defense siren sounds like in comparison to police/fire sirens. 

 

As climate change causes more severe (and nontraditional) weather events, we need to take precautions.

 

I would encourage fellow Maplewood residents to make similar calls or send emails/letters.



joan_crystal

Thank you for posting this.  I did not learn of the warning until I woke up this morning, a bit late if there had been a direct hit.  We need a way of issuing a timely alert to all of our residents if this type of weather is to be the new normal.  


mikescott

Wouldn't it make more sense for a warning to come from the county when it is weather related?  If Maplewood was at risk, then so was every other town in the county and would make sense to reach as many people as possible.  


mulemom

Does Maplewood even still have a civil defense siren?  I can remember it being used to signify snow days for school but haven't heard it in years.  Good idea to employ it for storm warnings.  


FilmCarp

I disagree.   The siren doesn't reach everyone, and who knows what it is sounding for.  My phone was exploding with warnings.  I don't think that this is a town issue.  County or regional, maybe, but not town specific.  Why involve another layer of government?  Listen to the radio, watch TV, check your phone, there are lots of systems in place without adding the town.


bella
mikescott said:
Wouldn't it make more sense for a warning to come from the county when it is weather related?  If Maplewood was at risk, then so was every other town in the county and would make sense to reach as many people as possible.  

 But tornados are often localized.  What might impact us might not impact West Caldwell.


bella
FilmCarp said:
I disagree.   The siren doesn't reach everyone, and who knows what it is sounding for.  My phone was exploding with warnings.  I don't think that this is a town issue.  County or regional, maybe, but not town specific.  Why involve another layer of government?  Listen to the radio, watch TV, check your phone, there are lots of systems in place without adding the town.

 Did you see Joan's comment?

And severe, unpredictable weather doesn't always occur when one might be watching TV or listening to the radio.


FilmCarp
bella said:


FilmCarp said:
I disagree.   The siren doesn't reach everyone, and who knows what it is sounding for.  My phone was exploding with warnings.  I don't think that this is a town issue.  County or regional, maybe, but not town specific.  Why involve another layer of government?  Listen to the radio, watch TV, check your phone, there are lots of systems in place without adding the town.
 Did you see Joan's comment?
And severe, unpredictable weather doesn't always occur when one might be watching TV or listening to the radio.

 I did.  I respect Joan.  I just disagree about the siren.  No one will no what it means.


sac
FilmCarp said:


bella said:

FilmCarp said:
I disagree.   The siren doesn't reach everyone, and who knows what it is sounding for.  My phone was exploding with warnings.  I don't think that this is a town issue.  County or regional, maybe, but not town specific.  Why involve another layer of government?  Listen to the radio, watch TV, check your phone, there are lots of systems in place without adding the town.
 Did you see Joan's comment?
And severe, unpredictable weather doesn't always occur when one might be watching TV or listening to the radio.
 I did.  I respect Joan.  I just disagree about the siren.  No one will no what it means.

I think that the siren is a good idea and I'm pretty sure we still have it (them?) so I don't think we are talking about a major cost here.

While people may not know what a specific siren blow means, it would alert them that something is going on and get them to turn on their tv, check text messages or social media, etc.  

My daughter lives in the midwest and they know what sirens mean.  Surely people here can learn to react to them.



mrincredible

I agree, especially for the cohort of people who don't have smartphones, that a siren would be helpful. Most of those people know it's an alert to go to a source of information. 

I got the alert on my phone at 9 pm. Plenty of people don't have the TV or radio on at that point. 


Klinker
FilmCarp said:
I disagree.   The siren doesn't reach everyone, and who knows what it is sounding for.  My phone was exploding with warnings.  I don't think that this is a town issue.  County or regional, maybe, but not town specific.  Why involve another layer of government?  Listen to the radio, watch TV, check your phone, there are lots of systems in place without adding the town.

 Put up more sirens then.  There are still a fair number of folks in our communities that do not use smart phones. A few of them actually post on this site.


bella

Ok, so my request of those who do agree with me: reach out to town hall, reach out to the township committee, reach out to everyone you can think of to build some momentum behind this.


joan_crystal

I'm not specifically advocating the reintroduction of the town siren system.  Whatever works.  Most likely we would need a combination of warning mechanisms since any one method would not work for everyone.  For those who do not have a smart phone or any form of internet access and limit their TV watching in the evening, the addition of a siren to the mix of warning methods would have helped reach a segment of our population that would not otherwise have known of the danger.  In reply to the concern that newer residents would not know what the siren is or how to respond, a little education would help to resolve that issue.  Re looking to a regional solution:  in most cases I would agree but not so much with tornado warnings.  These tend to be highly localized, requiring a localized response.


bella

To be sure, I'm not saying just sirens, rather I'm advocating adding them back to the mix.


mikescott
bella said:


mikescott said:
Wouldn't it make more sense for a warning to come from the county when it is weather related?  If Maplewood was at risk, then so was every other town in the county and would make sense to reach as many people as possible.  
 But tornados are often localized.  What might impact us might not impact West Caldwell.

 Actually almost all weather warnings are usually for a larger area.  Especially a tornado since their paths are near impossible to predict and rarely can they say it would only hit one town and not  another.   Clearly this is an issue for the county which has far greater resources than most towns.

  Most mobile phones (not just smart phones) can receive text messages and almost everyone has a mobile phone including most seniors.   

I don't think sirens would be effective.  




Klinker
mikescott said:


I don't think sirens would be effective.  

 Why?


Klinker

It seems to me its not an "either or", its an "and".  Its hard to say how they would hurt and, if we ever had a real tornado come through, they might save some lives.


peteglider

sirens are such an old thing -- most would have no idea why they're going off, I wouldn't

we've become so phone dependent. but.... last night I was in a meeting, we were asked to put on our phones on airplane mode so as to not disturb. so of course none of us saw the warnings.

this morning at the gym the Direct TV had warnings... do other TV stations still do that?



sac

Based on my experience with some of my older friends and family members, many who have phones (smart or dumb) do not know how to read their text messages.  So, while text messaging is definitely a good thing, don't assume that everyone (or almost everyone) will see a text message.  I think that the bottom line message here is that there should be many different methods to communicate emergency information and sirens are certainly a reasonable alert to danger, and the need to check other information sources, even though they certainly can't communicate details.


bella
mikescott said:
 Actually almost all weather warnings are usually for a larger area.  Especially a tornado since their paths are near impossible to predict and rarely can they say it would only hit one town and not  another.   Clearly this is an issue for the county which has far greater resources than most towns.
  Most mobile phones (not just smart phones) can receive text messages and almost everyone has a mobile phone including most seniors.   
I don't think sirens would be effective.  




 Yet they are commonly used in the midwest.  Why do you think that is?  Here's a hint: because they can reach a large swath of people and are effective.


bella

PS sorry for any snappiness, but am passionate about this. I've been through an F4 destroying large areas of where I was living (and killing people), and don't want to see the senseless loss of life happen again if there are reasonable steps to prevent it.


drummerboy

whatever happened to the Emergency Broadcast System? Why was not every TV and Radio broadcast interrupted with the warning?


bella
drummerboy said:
whatever happened to the Emergency Broadcast System? Why was not every TV and Radio broadcast interrupted with the warning?

 Good question, but don't forget that only works if you have the tv or radio on.  Public safety needs to be a multi-pronged approach.


joan_crystal
mikescott said:
  
  Most mobile phones (not just smart phones) can receive text messages and almost everyone has a mobile phone including most seniors.   





 Text messages would only be effective if the recipient saw them in time.  My experience has been that seniors in general are not as attached to their cell phones as the general population - especially if that phone is a flip.  They are likely to power off the phone when not in active use, leave the phone on the charger or in another room, and/or turn off the volume associated with an incoming text message.  Some even have the texting function disabled on their phone.  Having a cell phone is not enough.  Everyone would have to have their cell phone powered on and in earshot 24/7 for text messaging to be the primary method of receiving emergency alerts.  For this population, being able to receive emergency alerts on their land line via reverse 911 or similar might make more sense, especially during hours when they are apt to be at home.


mikescott

Sirens are used for bomb warnings, school closings, volunteer fire depts, etc.  So if people can be educated to what the sirens mean then fine to use in addition.  But no question they are not as effective as a text message.  

 I would  use text messages as the primary method since they are the most effective way to reach the largest number of people.  Every method will fall short of reaching 100% of the population.  Text messages come closest with the ability to reach 277 million people over age 12.over 50% of people  over 55 have a smart phone  (number that have a mobile phone is significantly higher.  

I still think the county should be responsible for getting the word out.  

And to the snappy response about using sirens in the midwest, sirens would be more effective in rural areas (fewer hills and buildings, no competing train horns, etc).  plus many towns in rural areas have volunteer fire departments where sirens used to be the primary method to alert the volunteers.  Most use text messages today.  



Robert_Casotto

I’d suggest also a Town Crier.   The handbell and costuming cost would be minimal.  Could offer full bennies and steady work.  Just need someone with ample free time and who doesnt get bored easily. I know one guy who fits the bill...


bella
mikescott said:
Sirens are used for bomb warnings, school closings, volunteer fire depts, etc.  So if people can be educated to what the sirens mean then fine to use in addition.  But no question they are not as effective as a text message.  
 I would  use text messages as the primary method since they are the most effective way to reach the largest number of people.  Every method will fall short of reaching 100% of the population.  Text messages come closest with the ability to reach 277 million people over age 12.over 50% of people  over 55 have a smart phone  (number that have a mobile phone is significantly higher.  
I still think the county should be responsible for getting the word out.  
And to the snappy response about using sirens in the midwest, sirens would be more effective in rural areas (fewer hills and buildings, no competing train horns, etc).  plus many towns in rural areas have volunteer fire departments where sirens used to be the primary method to alert the volunteers.  Most use text messages today.  

 Your point about every method falling short of reaching 100% of the population is why I think that we should use all methods available.

And I lived in a mid-western city, not a rural area, sirens were used for tornadoes (and per friends who still live there, they still are).

ETA: I did receive the Nixel text message last night, but it wasn't sent until after the warning had expired.  Modern technology is great, but only when it works.


drummerboy

Why don't we just copy what they do in the more tornado-prone areas? I assume they've figured this all out. I don't think we need to re-invent the wheel.


bella
drummerboy said:
Why don't we just copy what they do in the more tornado-prone areas? I assume they've figured this all out. I don't think we need to re-invent the wheel.

 Well, I can attest to the usage of sirens in Ohio...


ridski
Robert_Casotto said:
I’d suggest also a Town Crier.   The handbell and costuming cost would be minimal.  Could offer full bennies and steady work.  Just need someone with ample free time and who doesnt get bored easily. I know one guy who fits the bill...

 Ooh! Ooh! Is it me?



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