NEW ORLEANS — New Orleanian, Debra Campbell, labels herself an activist. She also sits on the Contraflow Board, which she says is pushing for sirens.
“Give us some sirens. Let us know, ‘Hey, there’s danger in the area.’" Campbell said, "Not only for tornadoes, but we have a lot of plants, chemical plants in the area.”
A nuclear plant in St. Charles Parish, Waterford 3, owns and maintains 37 sirens across the parish.
In a tornadic situation, like we saw on Wednesday, emergency management confirms with the National Weather Service before pressing some buttons and setting them off.
Jason Tastet, director of emergency management for St. Charles Parish, said the parish is simultaneously pushing out texts, social media posts, and online and broadcast alerts that inform the public of what's happening.
“What the sirens really mean to the public is to go inside, go indoors, and seek further information," Tastet said.
St. Charles Parish tests their sirens once a month, Tastet said.
New Orleans uses its NOLA Ready alerts, but it doesn't have sirens.
The City's Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Collin Arnold, addressed it at a press conference the day after the storm.
“Sirens in rural areas are great. Sirens near chemical plants and things like that are a necessity. Sirens in the city we can look at, in an urban area we can look at," Arnold said, "But the best thing right now is utilizing the technology and utilizing your phone.”
According to Joseph A. Valiente, the director of emergency management for Jefferson Parish, they're talking about sirens and other options.
“The parish president did bring that up in a staff meeting last week that she wanted us to investigate outdoor emergency sirens. We are looking into that," Valiente said.
Valiente said JP is gathering data and research, including how many sirens would be needed to cover the parish.
They're also looking at if chemical plants would sponsor the sirens, similar to St. Charles Parish, so the JP doesn't bear the brunt of the financial responsibility.
Both St. Charles and Jefferson Parishes recommend having a weather radio to alert you.
“We feel that at this time, that’s your best protection," Valiente said.
Valiente said you can get them for as little as $20 dollars. But folks like Campbell, want sirens.
“Until you feel the need for it, you’re not going to even investigate," Campbell said, "So I think that was the problem, but now it looks like Tornado Alley is moving further East, and we’re getting caught up in it. And yeah, we need to do something at this time.”
To sign up for emergency alerts in Jefferson Parish, visit this page.
To sign up for emergency alerts in St. Charles Parish, visit this page.
To sign up for NOLA Ready alerts, visit this page.