Fort Worth encourages emergency text sign ups after sirens damaged

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 7:49 PM

FORT WORTH -- Fort Worth is down two emergency warning sirens thanks to two drivers who ran into support poles and took off.

"You cannot hit a siren pole like this and not know you hit it," said Juan Ortiz, emergency management director for the city of Fort Worth.

He was looking down at a thick, fractured pole stretched across the entrance to a car wash at Camelot Road and Sycamore School Road. The pole is 50 feet tall, and anchored nearly 10 feet deep.

Someone flattened it very early Tuesday morning. It was no parking lot bump.

"This is a concrete pole, rebar reinforced,” Ortiz said. “These are custom made for these types of sirens."

They're the type that can save lives. The National Weather Service reports a total of 23 tornadoes in North Texas last year alone.

Fort Worth has 153 emergency sirens. Minus two.

"We want the public to know this section of the community does not have a siren," Ortiz said.

The siren alerted people within one square mile of Camelot Road and Sycamore School Road.

"We're not going to have any warning,” said nearby resident Roberto Rodriguez. “We're not going to know what happens, you know?"

Rodriguez said having a siren so close gives him a sense of security.

Juan Ortiz said it could take four-to-five months to replace the siren.

"The siren and electrical components are easy to replace,” he said. “It's the concrete pole that has to be custom made."

Fort Worth will order a pole from a manufacturer on the East Coast.

The city has only one spare. That one will likely be needed to replace a damaged pole at Old Mansfield Road and Rodeo Street. Someone hit it on Dec. 19.

The impact knocked the siren off the pole and left the pole itself leaning. Car parts from impact litter the grass beneath the pole like acorns.

So Ortiz is urging everyone in the affected areas to sign up on the city's website for alerts by phone. He's also asking for the public’s help to find the drivers who hit the poles.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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