This is only a test.
During upgrades of Guadalupe County’s early warning emergency sirens system, people in the county could hear the sirens sound periodically into next week, the county’s emergency management coordinator said.
“This week the Office of Emergency Management will be having the annual service of the sirens throughout the County. During this service, the County will also be updating the radios, antennas, cabling, software, and computer parts within the siren. During this time, you may hear the sirens tested while the technicians are updating the system,” said Patrick Pinder, Guadalupe County’s emergency management coordinator and fire marshal. “This test will sound like the weekly Saturday tests which have been conducted in the past. If you have not heard the sirens on the weekly test, this service will be fixing this issue, and you should start to hear the sirens again once the work is completed.”
The total for the extensive upgrades is about $76,000, Pinder said. Commissioners Court approved and funded the upgrades at about $55,000 from the county’s coffers, he said.
It was money well spent, County Judge Kyle Kutscher said.
“I think a lot of people think of those sirens as flood sirens but they are intended for early warning notification for disaster, all types of events,” Kutscher said. “It’s definitely a necessity.”
They come in handy with flooding, which might be the threat most likely to trigger activation of the sirens, the county judge said. The sirens can reach large numbers of people in a short amount of time, making them nearly invaluable, Kutscher said.
“AS we continue to grow as a county and have people move in, we have a lot of very knowledgeable people who have gone through floods on the waterway but we also have people who move in who are not as (knowledgeable),” he said. “Those sirens sound, that is notifying a great number of people for the benefit of their safety.”
Each year, Guadalupe County Commissioners Court budgets funding for siren maintenance, Pinder said. Usually it’s more of a checkup of the system.
This year, the system called for more of a tune up with major upgrades, Pinder said. Upgrades include installing new computer boards with updated software, new antennas, new wiring, battery chargers, new batteries and installing new radios out in the field, he said.
“The way the system communicates is there is a radio at the sheriff’s office,” Pinder said. “It sends a signal out to the radio at the siren site. That’s being replaced to allow for advancements in technology.”
Every Saturday at noon, county officials test the system by sounding a test alert, the emergency management coordinator said. It’s designed to test the sirens’ capabilities on battery backup and make sure they’re operating as they should. People in some areas might not have been hearing the test alerts, which will be rectified with the upgrades, Pinder said.
The tests usually sound the alarm for about 90 seconds, he said. In the event of a real emergency, the alarms will blast for about three minutes, and that’s when people in the county should tune in to local media outlets for instructions on where to go and what to do, Pinder said.
“The work being done is essential to keeping the citizens of the county safe. Guadalupe County is always on the forefront of safety,” he said. “Lives lost is something the county looks at as very important. We don’t want that to happen on our watch.”
Issues with ensuring that safety can arise when out-of-town visitors flood the area without knowledge of what to do or what it means if and when the sirens sound, Pinder said. To help locals stay on top of things, he suggested that residents log on to the Everbridge system to receive alerts on their mobile devices when emergencies arise.