Mercer County leaders 'sounding the alarm' on tornado siren issue

Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 19:12:15-04

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — When you hear a tornado siren, that's the last-second push to get shelter.

What would happen if those sirens didn't go off? That's something Mercer County leaders had to address Thursday morning after the judge-executive says the sirens didn't go off on Wednesday night with severe weather entering the county.

"Found out last night that the sirens were not heard, and presumably didn't go off, which we know for a fact, they did not go off," said Mercer County Judge-Executive Scott Moseley.

Moseley says the sirens eventually went off after about a 15-20 minute delay.

He says the county 911 operations recently moved to a regional site in Garrard County.

"Once the transition left Mercer County over to Garrard County, again this was the first major weather event, and there was a problem in the coding system," he said.

Mercer County crews are still dispatched, but calls just ring to Garrard County. The programming issue with the sirens had to do with the recent move, which Moseley says happened about a month ago. Wednesday night, crews weren't able to activate the siren from Garrard County.

"We had our emergency response folks go to the original 911 center that was here in Mercer County and they were able to sound the sirens from that point," he said. "It was late and it's something that, quite frankly, as a Mercer Couty citizen and county judge, I never want to see that happen again."

Moseley says the county is starting a weather-ready call center, called Civic Ready. Residents will get a call anytime the sirens are going off.

"We're setting all the fire chief radios to where they're able to sound the sirens remotely from their portable radio so it doesn't have to go directly through dispatch," Moseley said.

You can also always download the LEX 18 Storm Tracker Weather app to get alerts if severe weather is entering your area.