Sweetwater tests tornado sirens

SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tornado sirens blared across Sweetwater Wednesday afternoon.

"Having these sirens in town will really help, so we know when something's coming," said Sweetwater resident Bill Morris.

TVA donated three of them to the city earlier this year. They're now located next to three different water towers on the outskirts of town. Sweetwater already owned the fourth siren, which is on top of the downtown fire station.

"I'm afraid that sooner or later, we're going to have one that comes right through this valley. And we want to be ready, we want to warn our citizens and I think that's important," said Mayor Doyle Lowe.

The city notified people about the testing process through its Code Red phone and e-mail system. Then, at 1 o'clock, the sirens sounded for the first time.

"I think it's a great idea that Sweetwater has done this, because of the devastation with all these tornadoes within the last couple of years, it's really needed," said Kevin Cooney, who lives in Sweetwater.

"It was very - we heard it inside the restaurant, so it was loud," said Morris.

But it wasn't as loud on the north side of town, where the mayor and fire chief were listening.

"We're probably at the furthest point away at this location here, so I think it wasn't really what we expected. I think we probably need to add a couple more to a couple locations north of where we are now, and they should do fine," said Dough Watson, Sweetwater's fire chief.

Mayor Lowe said the sirens make the town safer and said,

"It could save lives, but I hope we never have to use it."

He said refurbishing the sirens cost about $3,000 - much cheaper than buying new sirens. He said fire, police and the Mayor's office will have the ability to activate them.

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