Cardinal School District and city of Eldon install new outdoor warning system

The city of Eldon and Cardinal School District are now each equipped with a brand-new outdoor warning siren.

Cardinal Schools are far enough away from town that it required its own siren in order to be effective. The city's old siren was also outdated. It could not be activated remotely and was not loud enough to cover a large area.

The new sirens can be activated remotely 24 hours a day by a dispatcher in Ottumwa monitoring severe weather. There is also equipment to allow the siren to be activated locally, if need be.

"These sirens are also equipped with a battery backup, so if there's a power failure, you can still sound the siren up to five times before the power turns back on," said Josh Stevens, Wapello County Emergency Management Coordinator. "And these are louder and more effective."

Cardinal paid for their siren with a combination of district funds and a grant from the Wapello County Foundation. The siren for the city of Eldon was purchased half by funds from the local option sales tax and half from a Legacy Foundation grant.

The warning sirens will be tested the first Saturday of every month, unless there is a threat of severe weather on that day.

The criteria for setting off the sirens are as follows:

-Tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service,

-Report of a tornado from law enforcement, the fire department or emergency management,

-Wind speed of 70 miles per hour or greater, as indicated by the National Weather Service or

-Hail that is 1.75 inches in diameter or greater, as forecasted by the National Weather Service or surveyed by law enforcement, fire department or emergency management.

Stevens said the new sirens should be operational for several decades.