NEW PALESTINE, Ind. – A siren meant to be a warning signal for severe weather came crashing down over the weekend after strong winds rolled through central Indiana.
“You get really high speed winds during a tornado, and all of a sudden we have a wind storm and it just comes down?” asked Megan Loughlin, a business owner down the road from where the siren used to stand.
New Palestine Town Manager David Book said the siren itself was more than 60 years old, but had been in that location for roughly 25 years. Over time, parts of the wooden pole underneath the pavement started to rot.
“We didn’t know it,” Book said. “It just got weaker and weaker and weaker.”
Indiana law says sirens should be weather resistant and should be able to operate in a range of conditions. However, it lists nothing specific about what the siren or its fixture should be able to withstand. While the siren itself is tested regularly, Book says the poles that hold them up are not.
“It’s just something you don’t think of,” Book said. “I don’t know how you’d inspect it.”
Book says since the pole was put into asphalt in a parking lot, it’s hard to know the condition of the pole underneath the ground.
The town says the siren will be replaced soon, but in the meantime they will have to work with the only other siren in town.
“We’ll just have to rely on that and peoples cell phone apps,” Book said. “Hopefully we don’t have a storm before we get the new one up.”
Book says he is working with Hancock County emergency management about the location of the new siren. The county is also in the process of revamping the siren system countywide.
In the meantime, people who live in the town hope a new siren is put up sooner rather than later.
“Well, I don’t have cable, I just have Netflix,” Loughlin said. “So I’d probably just get it on my cell phone.”