County questions need for sirens, early warning system

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

In the wake of Friday’s tornado in Logan, the Quay County Commission has asked county officials to examine the costs of an early warning system.

“Don’t we have sirens (in Tucumcari)?” said Commissioner Bill Curry at Monday’s commission meeting.

County manager Richard Primrose said the city of Tucumcari had four sirens, but they were obsolete and do not work. He said that the city had investigated the costs of repair, but the costs were too expensive.

Primrose, who became county manager on March 1, is the former city manager.
Primrose said it was possible that the enhanced 911 emergency response system, based at the Tucumcari Police Department, could provide a reverse 911 warning system.

A reverse 911 system can make thousands of calls per hour with a prerecorded phone message to residents in a certain area regarding an emergency. Depending on how sophisticated the system is, it can also send messages to cell phones, personal digital assistants and other eletronic equipment.

A request for four sirens for Tucumcari was submitted during the planning of the 2006 budget for the city of Tucumcari but was turned down for lack of funds, said Mike Cherry, Quay County emergency manager and Tucumcari Fire Chief.

It’s estimated that one siren costs about $20,000 and that it would take four sirens to provide covrage for Tucumcari for a warning system, Cherry said.

It would take three sirens to provide coverage in Logan, he said.

However, Friday’s tornado in Logan developed so swiftly that Doppler radar did not detect the tornado until it had hit the ground, Cherry said.

Logan Fire Chief Rex Stall said that about two weeks prior the tornado there had been a discussion among Logan officials about installing an early warning system.