On Thursday, July 19, a small ceremony was held at Cuivre River State Park to mark the completion of a large project – the purchase and installation of three new outdoor warning sirens (most commonly known as tornado sirens) in unincorporated portions of Lincoln County. Two of these new sirens were installed within the confines of Cuivre River State Park (one at the campground near the amphitheater and the other at Camp Derricotte), and the third was installed at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
Each siren is multi-functional, and in addition to the standard severe weather “siren” tone, each has the ability to broadcast pre-recorded messages. The sirens will be tested each month on the first Tuesday of the month at 10am by playing the Westminster Chimes. The “siren” tone will sound during an actual Tornado Warning. With the right equipment, authorities will even be able to broadcast real-time warnings or instructions from a hand-held radio. The flashing lights can be used to give a lost hiker a point of reference, or to warn of a specific threat such as flash flooding. According to Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Emma Epplin, “These new sirens are the first to be located in unincorporated Lincoln County, and they significantly enhance our capability to warn the public of severe weather and other emergencies.”
All other severe weather sirens in Lincoln County have, to this point, been installed within and maintained by municipalities. “Deciding on where to install these sirens was a challenge,” Epplin added, “there was almost a triage process involved. We had to determine where they would potentially do the most good for the largest group of people.” The siren at the State Park campground covers the campground itself, the amphitheater, the beach, and Lincoln Lake. The siren near the north end of the park, at Camp Derricotte, covers those camping areas. The decision to place the third siren at the fairgrounds was based on the number of people there during the Lincoln County Fair and other events held on the grounds. These locations are also outdoor public gathering places.
The cost of the sirens alone was $30,000 each, with 75% of that cost being covered by a Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant and the remaining 25% coming from Lincoln County general revenue. Additional siren purchases are being contemplated based on the availability of funding streams.
Director Epplin said, “The project would not have been considered, let alone completed, without the active participation of all the organizations involved.” She continued, saying it was a “true partnership” between the Lincoln County Commission, numerous emergency response agencies, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri State Parks (the organization has identified this project as a model for use in state parks throughout Missouri), Lincoln County Fairgrounds and Ameren.