November 1, 2014

Medina
Showers
39°F

Brunswick residents want sirens replaced in case of another twister

A siren wouldn’t have helped Monday night when a tornado touched down in Brunswick. That’s because the National Weather Service didn’t issue a tornado warning.

But residents are wondering about the next time and asking why the city hasn’t fixed its sirens, which have been shut off since 2008.

A map prepared by the National Weather Service office in Cleveland shows the track of Monday night’s tornado through Brunswick. The path shows it was an EF0 tornado during most of the 1.7-mile path, but reached speeds of an EF1 twister — up to 110 mph — over two housing developments. The points where the tornado reached speeds of EF1 are in green and the EF0 speeds are shown in blue. (MAP COURTESY OF NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE)

A map prepared by the National Weather Service office in Cleveland shows the track of Monday night’s tornado through Brunswick. The path shows it was an EF0 tornado during most of the 1.7-mile path, but reached speeds of an EF1 twister — up to 110 mph — over two housing developments. The points where the tornado reached speeds of EF1 are in green and the EF0 speeds are shown in blue. (MAP COURTESY OF NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE)

“There was no siren, nothing, and my kids were running around outside,” said Molly Koenig, who got her children inside minutes before the tornado hit.

On Monday, the weather service issued a severe thunderstorm warning as rains moved into Brunswick. Within two minutes, the city activated CodeRED phone calls, which went out at 6:56 p.m. alerting residents to severe thunderstorms.

CodeRED, is an opt-in phone service for Brunswick and Brunswick Hills Township residents to get severe alerts from the city.

The warning was too late. The tornado had touched down minutes before.

Residents say they understand that not all tornadoes can be predicted. But many are.

Koenig wondered what would happen next time if they’re not near their phone to get a tornado alert.

“The phone alert is good, but what if you’re outside or you don’t have your phone on you?” Koenig said.

Other parents in the neighborhood agreed and said they think City Council should look at upgrading the sirens to get them in working condition.

The sirens were taken offline in 2008, after hackers got into the system and set off the alarms during early morning hours. After a few days of hacking attacks, the city shut the sirens off for good.

“We didn’t want people to be complacent about the sirens with us not being able to control who was setting them off,” said Vince Carl, Ward 2 councilman and the city’s vice mayor.

Carl, whose ward includes streets on and around Royal Oak Drive, which sustained the most damage from Monday’s tornado, said he’s willing to consider spending the money to get the sirens working again.

“It was going to cost about $80,000 to fix it,” he said. “We would have to buy encryption hardware in order to get the signal so it can’t be hacked.”

Carl said he doesn’t think the city has an extra $80,000 to spend, but is willing to consider the proposal if residents say it’s a priority.

“If you ask people if they want to spend money on the sirens or on fixing city streets, I think they’ll say they want us to fix the roads,” he said. “But I’m willing to consider it if they say they want it.”

City Manager Anthony Bales, who took office just last week, said he thinks it’s likely Council will consider the upgrades.

“I know the city has considered the cost several times, but I imagine we will look at it again,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorengenson.