City Updates Analog Siren Towers as Severe Weather Hits East Texas
PHARR – One Rio Grande Valley city is taking extra precautions after tornadoes struck down throughout east Texas leaving four dead and dozens injured.
Pharr is the only city still using an analog emergency siren system.
Benjamin Villanueva resides under one of seven emergency siren towers in the city.
“Unfortunately, nothing happens here in the Valley but we never know,” he said. “Probably if one day, if they turn on we might keep an eye on that and we do something right away.”
Pharr Emergency Management coordinator Jason Arms said the recent tornados storms signaled them to double check their emergency sirens.
“With the recent stuff on the news about the threats to other communities around the country, it’s always a constant reminder to make sure our infrastructure is ready to go,” he said.
Arms said the sirens are inspected annually.
“We maintain our analog sirens because your phone may be dead, you may have left it on vibrate and if you’re asleep these sirens will wake you up,” he said.
The emergency sirens in the city have five times the capacity of a Q-2 fire truck siren.
“It costs the city approximately $4,000 a year to maintain them,” he said.
Villanueva said it doesn’t matter the added costs for these sirens as long as they continue working in case a disaster strikes.
Arms said the department will be checking all their emergency sirens over the next two weeks to make sure they are at peak performance.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS wanted to know what other counties and cities are using to alert residents about a disaster.
Hidalgo County Emergency Management coordinator Ricardo Saldana said the county does not have emergency sirens installed. Instead, they rely on social media, news and the National Weather Service for updates.
Saldana said they also use the reverse 911 system to reach the public.
“It’s a system on your cellphone or if you still have a home phone that you register those numbers in and they will call you and let you know,” he explained.
Saldana said there’s no regulatory agency which requires testing emergency sirens.
Mid-Valley Emergency Management Coordinator George Garrett said Donna and Mercedes residents should go to city hall sign up for code red alert system.