ROANOKE — The local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will test warning sirens again May 4 to acquaint residents with the newer emergency alert system recently put in place.
The EMA tests siren the first Tuesday of the month in fair weather. It is meant to teach residents what the alert sounds like in the event of a possible tornado and to test it for any needed repairs. However, after the first warning ends at 10 a.m., a second alert will also be tested—a specialized warning signal used to alert residents to the possibility of other emergencies.
The second alert will be two-tone, different from the tornado siren, and it will be followed by a voice message that indicates a different kind of emergency. For testing purposes, the message will be a short explanation of the alert. While the use of the siren was initially developed to warn of the possibility of flash flooding. According to EMA Director Mike Oltman, the new alert is not solely for that use and could also be used to alert residents to hazardous material spills or other emergencies.
In addition to the 10 a.m. test, a second one will be administered at 6 p.m. on the same day. Oltman noted the second test is to give people who are not in town on a weekday morning the opportunity to hear the alert and understand it.
He added residents should also have a weather alert radio or download apps to cell phones that can provide additional sources of weather warnings. He indicated the village will also send out text messages through its messaging system and will post warnings on the village website. Also, residents should pay attention to flash flood watches and be ready to evacuate if necessary.
After the April test, some residents indicated they could not understand the voice message, while others were unaware of what the alert meant. Adjustments are being made for the next test. Oltman asks residents to listen for the sirens next week and offer feedback to him or any village official.