Staying silent? Recent severe storms trigger tornado siren talk

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BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- Brunswick City Council met Monday night in caucus to discuss a number of issues including re-activating the city's tornado sirens.

The sirens went silent in 2008 after hackers kept triggering the alarms in the middle of the night causing a panic.

“The decision to turn them off was actually made because it was causing more harm than good at the time,” said Robert Marok,  Brunswick Information, Technology & Security Officer. “It was interfering with the 911 Center and flooding them with calls.”

The city switched to a Code Red: a reverse 911 call alert system, but after a series of severe storms and tornado touchdowns, the public began asking about the sirens.

People said they had little warning before a tornado touched down June 23, destroying and damaging many properties on and near Royal Oak Dr.

Becky Siverd said, “I mean I got the text message that there was a thunderstorm warning and before I even finished reading that is when it got really loud and really dark and I went downstairs.”

Becky is nearly nine-months pregnant and the stress of the tornado clipping her house and demolishing her neighbor’s home caused early contractions.

In the middle of the chaos, she was rushed to the hospital where everything checked out okay.

Her husband, Kyle said, “It's good they’re going to fix them (sirens) but they wouldn’t have done anything anyway because it just came so quick and so fast.”

The tornado that day was an EF1 twister that formed and dropped quickly without warning signs, according to the National Weather Service.

There was only a little more lead time when a tornado touched down again last Tuesday; but only because the twister touched down first at the Lorain-Medina County border.

Still, Brunswick City Councilman Alex Johnson, said, “One of the good things that happened out of this bad situation is that it did bring focus back to the sirens.”

At the time the sirens were turned off it would’ve cost about $80,000 to upgrade and repair the system.

There is no word what the costs will be now.

Mr. Marok said over the next two weeks they will be inspecting the city's eight sirens and getting estimates on a new system with security features to prevent hackers.

All of that information will be delivered to city council at the next meeting in about two weeks and at that time they will decide whether or not to reboot the sirens.

*Click for more coverage on the tornadoes in Brunswick*