SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — C.W. Sigman, Director of Kanawha County Emergency Management, says that not one but two emergency alert systems failed last week when a shelter in place was ordered in South Charleston.
The first of the two was the outdoor warning siren, which Virgil White, South Charleston Fire Chief, said has been out of commission for the past two months. He said repair was delayed because of supply chain issues, but it is now getting fixed.
“Having parts to get it replaced to make it more operational was the delay, which is no fault to anybody,” White said.
The siren is just one of 55 in Putnam and Kanawha counties that are set to alert residents of emergencies.
“We have several sirens throughout the city,” White said. “Having multiple chemical plants, that comes into play when there’s a shelter in place that’s activated. If there’s some natural disaster like a tornado, those sirens are very beneficial.”
It was just recently Aug. 4 when a shelter in place was ordered in South Charleston for a chlorine gas leak. No one was reported injured at the time, but residents say it is alarming they didn’t hear anything.
“I usually hear the siren for any type of weather or problem that’s going on, but not this past time,” said Marcia Anderson, a South Charleston resident. “It’s kind of scary. It’s really kind of scary.”
In addition to the siren, there are two other alert system methods, including a wireless emergency system that sends text messages to your phone. Officials said that system also failed during the chlorine scare.
“We have a lot of redundancy in the system which is important,” Sigman said. “This might’ve failed, but we had the app. We try to have multiple systems for people to know about it. You’re always going to have an issue somewhere. You want to have a backup plan.”
With the wireless emergency alert also failing last week, Sigman said residents should download the KC Ready App to stay alert even when they aren’t in Kanawha County.
Sigman said the wireless emergency alert system is back up and running, but there is no official date for when the South Charleston outdoor warning siren can be tested and considered operational.