Tornado siren test provides chance to review safety plan

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s Department of Emergency Management/Department of Homeland Security is gearing up this week for a pair of weather-related events.According to department director Cathy Broxon-Ball, this week is not only Severe Weather Awareness Week, but also Flood Safety Awareness week.In conjunction with the five-day event, Broxon-Ball said her department would be testing the county’s emergency sirens on Wednesday in the morning and again at 7 p.m.We’ll be monitoring it from here and we’ll be sending (information on the events) out to all the schools so hopefully all the schools will participate in it if they can,” she said.“Some of the schools participate and some don’t.”During the week, Broxon Ball said a variety of people get involved in testing communications to ensure if disaster strikes, preparedness will be as high as possible.“The amateur radio operators check in and we’ll be checking in with the national weather service,” she said.Broxon-Ball said her department regularly checks the sirens on the first and third Mondays each month, but that this check will be in addition to the normal checks.She said the timing of the awareness does coincide with expected heavy spring rains and the thawing of snow, as well as the time of year when tornadoes occur most often.“But, tornadoes can happen all year around,” she said.“With the severe weather events that have happened in recent years, I think people need to practice (severe weather awareness),” she said.Broxon-Ball also said she wanted to remind parents of latch-key children, kids who come home from school and spend some time alone before Mom or Dad get home, that those children need awareness as much as anyone.“Do they know what to do if severe weather happens and you’re not home?” said Broxon-Ball.