Lack of tornado sirens across the ArkLaTex concern residents

Lack of tornado sirens across the ArkLaTex concern residents

ARKLATEX (KSLA) - Last week's tornadoes across East Texas prompted many to wonder about the lack of tornado sirens across the ArkLaTex. Towns across the plains are well equipped with these sirens to warn of impending danger, yet many communities including Shreveport and Bossier City are without the early alert systems.

The small town of Benton is not one of these towns. After the tornado outbreak during Easter of 1999, which killed several people across Bossier Parish, city officials came together to strategize on obtaining a grant for a tornado siren.

Benton Mayor Wayne Cathcart says the siren is only sounded if a tornado warning has been issued for the town.

"When you hear that [siren], you know it's time to seek shelter," says Cathcart.

But why is it that a town of a little over 2,000 residents has the siren, but much larger cities like Shreveport and Bossier City, do not?

It all comes down to cost. Several city officials from Caddo and Bossier Parish said after a study performed four years ago that it would not be financially feasible to install tornado sirens. Instead, they are relying on the FCC's required alert system to warn of impending danger. 

Although there are sirens in Marshall, Texas, there are not any early alert systems across the rest of the county with high costs and a smaller population being the main issues. Officials in Harrison County say they recommend everyone purchase a weather radio to keep updated on all watches or warnings in case of any power outages. 

Mayor Cathcart says his biggest concern is keeping the people of Benton as safe and weather aware as possible.

"You know I don't know how you could ever do enough. Mother Nature and severe storms are just something that we have to deal with living in this part of the country. Are we doing something? Might it save lives? Yes," explains Cathcart.

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