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Curry County turns away from tsunami sirens

Curry County will no longer use its tsunami sirens. That's because the Curry County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to stop paying for them since there were more reliable ways of alerting people of a distant tsunami.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 11:27 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2019 4:15 PM

BROOKINGS, Ore.-- Curry County will no longer use its tsunami sirens. That's because the Curry County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to stop paying for them.

In late July, the county's Emergency Management Coordinator Jeremy Dumire gave a presentation on how there are better ways to alert residents of a distant tsunami. Dumire wrote in a Curry County Emergency Management Facebook post that a distant tsunami is a "tsunami generated from a distant location," like Alaska, Japan or even Chile. A distant tsunami allows Emergency Management to send an alert telling people to evacuate low lying areas. If a tsunami were to hit Alaska, Dumire wrote, Emergency Management has about four hours to evacuate areas of risk. However, if a large earthquake generates a tsunami off of the coasts of Northern California and Oregon, there isn't much time between the shake and the wave. Dumire wrote in that case, the shake is your warning.

The 17 tsunami sirens spread throughout Curry County can only warn of a distant tsunami. Only four actually work.

"In the 18 months I've been in this position I have repaired two of them. One in Port Orford and one at Harris Beach," Dunmire said in his presentation.

Dumire continued saying the sirens date back to World War II and are just too old and too expensive to fix. Each siren can cost anywhere between $22,000 and $100,000 to fix depending on the type of repair.

"It's not reasonable to spend this kind of money necessary on these sirens," Dumire said to the Commissioners. He also said there were better and cheaper ways to alert everyone of a tsunami..

"We have the Everbridge Reverse 911 system. That is where dispatch can send a notification to your landline, your cell phone, your text messaging system, or your email system, however you choose to sign up," Dumire said. "Currently, we have 13,000 residents signed up."

The system costs $6,500 a year.

The Curry County Emergency Management Facebook post said in October, Curry County will be able to send alerts to anyone with a cell phone, residents and tourists, similar to that of an Amber Alert.

You can sign up to get those alerts here

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