Tornado sirens once again on the Ottumwa City Council agenda

The Ottumwa City Council will once again discuss changes to the city's outdoor warning system at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

Ottumwa has three brand-new sirens and the council already approved six new units. At Tuesday's meeting, the council will look at approving another four so that the entire system is updated.

When high winds hit Ottumwa in April, the warning system did not sound because a tornado warning was not issued from the National Weather Service until after the storm passed. With the new system, the sirens will have a warning for high winds, however, it will not have a voice message.

This change will hopefully reduce confusion and residents will know to always seek shelter when the alarms sound.

"I think this is a high priority and recent weather has shown that we need to change our technology and get things shored up and that's what we're going to do," said Joe Helfenberger, Ottumwa City Administrator.

The new sirens are paid for from the city's capital fund.

Next, the city will install the sirens so that they are hopefully operational by this summer. However, there is no firm date for completion.

Helfenberger said there will likely be some public education so that everyone knows the changes to the warning system and what the sirens indicate.

Also, a future project could be to consider offering weather radios at a reduced rate to residents. That way, they're equipped for severe weather inside as well.