Old Robbins Siren May Wail Again
The old siren that once heralded high noon in Robbins could howl again, this time as an emergency warning device.
The Town Board has asked interim manager Jeff Sheffield to look into the cost of bringing it back to life. Sheffield is also the town’s chief of police.
At the board’s request, Sheffield has had an electrician check the old siren, and he’s waiting for an estimate.
“We want to get that siren for a tornado warning,” Sheffield said. “It used to call firemen as well as sounding lunchtime.”
Many in Robbins remember its sound — a loud, long midday tone rising in pitch and volume as clocks struck 12. It could be heard all over town, and that’s what the police chief likes about it.
Last year, Robbins came under a tornado warning during its annual Adventure Bearathlon and Boxcar Derby. Competing home-built rolling racers were hurtling down a midtown Middleton Street crowded with spectators.
Sheffield had no way to notify everybody that he’d just been informed a twister had been sighted and could be heading their way.
That storm dodged Robbins and other places in Moore County but devastated areas around Sanford and Tramway, destroying a Lowe’s and a Big Lots store and damaging many homes.
“We had really no way to notify all these people to get them off the street,” Sheffield said Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve got a big mouth — but not that big. We need some kind of notification.”
In Midwest small towns, where tornadoes have been more frequent, there are such systems in place.
“They have sirens on their towers to give their people at least a few minutes to get prepared, get to shelter,” the chief said. “That’s what we need here in Robbins.”
Some institutions have automatic telephone notification systems to call a list of numbers with messages about weather and other emergency related events.
“The school system’s got it,” he said. “The county has some system if there is a situation going on, they can send out a call as far as floods or anything. The biggest thing here is tornadoes.”
On the first weekend in August every year, Farmers Day packs the town with thousands of visitors. It is one of the biggest festival events anywhere in the county. Sheffield worries about having no present way to warn such large numbers to take shelter.
“At that time of year, in that season, you can get tornadoes just like that,” he said.
He’s already prepared for this year’s event. Streets will be blocked off — with approval from the state — and Moore County sheriff’s deputies will augment the town force.
As town manager, Sheffield has a limited amount of funds at his discretion. If the cost of making the old siren usable falls within his budget he can authorize it. If more, he’ll report the estimate to the town board, and it will be its decision.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by email at email@example.com.
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