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New hurricane sirens ready to alert Pinellas County Coastline when it's time to evacuate

emergency siren.png
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 18:52:01-04

INDIAN SHORES, Fla.  — Hear the roar, hit the door. Indian Shores leaders are sounding the alarm when it comes to mandatory hurricane evacuations.

New hurricane sirens are now in place in the beach community and are ready to warn people on Pinellas County’s coastline when it’s time to leave their homes and businesses.

Indian Shores leaders spent Friday afternoon testing out the new sirens. Come a major hurricane, they hope the sirens will save lives.

“It is extremely important that when you’re told to leave the island, you leave the island,” explained Indian Shores Police Chief Richard Swann.

Chief Swann said the new hurricane sirens will only sound when a mandatory evacuation is called and when you hear them, it’s time to get up and go.

siren

“They are to make sure there is no doubt that when an evacuation is ordered, you hear these sirens, it’s time to leave,” he added.

Studies show not enough people are heeding those evacuation warnings. A recent AAA study found 1 in 4 Floridians would ignore evacuation warnings. 60% would only evacuate for a category 3 storm or higher. Inflation is also impacting people’s plans to evacuate, according to AAA, 2 in 5 said high gas prices factor into their decision to leave their homes.

Katrena Hale, the owner of Sand Glo Villas, takes every storm seriously. She makes plans to evacuate her guests if and when an evacuation is called.

“If they drove, I encourage them to drive out early. If the took a flight here, I encourage them to jump on an earlier plane out. If they don’t want to go and they want to gamble, I try to find them safer shelters that are not in harm’s way,” Hale elaborated.

The three new siren towers are located near the city line of Indian Shores and Indian Rocks Beach.

The new hurricane Early Warning Siren System replaced the older system which was a series of speakers mounted on a communications tower. The older system no longer works, according to Chief Swann.

working on siren

“The other one was so sad. It really was no warning at all. It sounded like the battery was dying so this is wonderful,” Hale added.

Chief Swann tells ABC Action News that the sirens can be heard North to either Indian Rocks Beach or Bellaire Beach and south to Treasure Island.

Together, the three new siren towers will sound once Pinellas County issues a mandatory evacuation.

This year, because of updated flood maps, more homeowners fall into those higher risk evacuation zones.

Elisha Herrmann, who was visiting Indian Shores from Ohio, said she’s happy to see the updated warning system. “Everybody knows the weather is so unpredictable and can come on you in a rush so if you’re not prepared especially in a hurricane situation it is especially important,” she elaborated.

Indian Shores Police Department leaders say many people are reluctant to leave their homes, yet, rising flood water can be the most dangerous part of a hurricane and they want to emphasize that with the addition of the new sirens.

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