Brownwood City Council members aren’t giving up on CodeRED, but they made it clear Tuesday they want the warning sirens to be re-activated for the approach of dangerous weather.
Workers began the process Tuesday afternoon of testing the city’s 11 sirens to see which ones still work and which ones will need maintenance, Brownwood emergency manager coordinator James Cook said.
He said the sirens could incur maintenance problems from not being used ranging from bearings freezing up to electronics being damaged by fire ants, lightning or just being out in the weather.
Sirens that still operate will be brought back on line, Cook said. For sirens that require maintenance the council will have to determine whether the city can afford it or will have to wait until next year’s budget.
The topic came up during Cook’s report to the council on the May 2 storm, which produced high winds, three funnel clouds and torrential rains.
Cooks said in his report that he heard from numerous citizens who say they want the sirens brought back, and some council members agreed.
Mayor Bert Massey said he agreed with council members who said the city can’t have too much warning when dangerous weather approaches.
Cook activated CodeRED — an Internet-based emergency warning system that can call up to 60,000 phone numbers an hour to deliver pre-recorded warnings — at 3:52 p.m. on the afternoon of the storm.
CodeRED managed to connect with 53.5 percent of 11,587 numbers in the system either in the initial attempt or during the “auto recall,” Cook’s report states. The system makes three attempts to call each number.
During the May 2 storm, CodeRED made more than 11,000 calls. According to Cook’s report:
Calls answered by people — 2,587. Calls answered by answering machines — 3,042. Line busy — 1,008. Connected with fax line — 315. No ring — 26. Operator intercept (usually means an overload) — 3,220. No answer — 1,386.
Cook said he had never favored having CodeRED as an exclusive warning system. The city began using CodeRED, which is paid for by a bioterrorism grant, in early 2006.
The sirens, though, have their own problems. City officials have said it cost the city more than $12,000 a year to maintain and operate them. Some have pointed out that some residents don’t know what the sirens mean and end up flooding emergency dispatchers with calls seeking information.
Cook said he has learned since the storm that a weather station at the landfill recorded a wind speed of 87 mph before the device broke.
In other business Tuesday, council members:
Authorized Massey to sign an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to produce an updated digital floodplain map for the city.
The city does not incur any expense with the agreement, according to an agenda item briefing sheet.
The city’s existing flood maps were made in 1982, and the re-mapping will take 24 to 30 months to complete.
Heard Massey read a proclamation declaring the week of May 20-26, 2007 as National Public Works Week. Declared six high-mileage trucks as surplus and authorized their dispositions through trade-ins or auction sales. Authorizing the purchase of a digital video recording system at a maximum cost of $2,818 to replace a failed system at City Hall. Authorized utility department to seek bids for the purchase of a compact pickup.