WINFIELD - Five early warning sirens will soon be up and running in Putnam County to notify the public of emergency situations.
Emergency Services Director Frank Chapman told Putnam County commissioners Tuesday morning he had received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"I didn't get everything I asked for, but we did get five early warning sirens for the county," Chapman said.
The sirens will be placed at the Poca fire department, the park behind the Eleanor fire department, the courthouse complex in Winfield, the Teays Valley fire department and Hurricane City Hall.
The locations were selected after a study of where the sound would best propagate to wide areas and near places where crowds of people might gather, such as the county fairgrounds in Eleanor.
Chapman said he hopes to add sirens in Buffalo and Bancroft in the future.
In addition to the traditional siren sound, the notification systems can project voice messages giving instructions.
"Back during the storm, we could have said, 'Food and water are available at this location' for people who don't have power," Chapman said, referring to last summer's derecho that caused widespread power outages that lasted days.
Chapman said the effort is coordinated with Kanawha County's Office of Emergency Management and that each county will be able to control both counties' siren systems in case of emergency. The sirens are powered by generators.
The sirens should be up and operational by the end of May. He said his office will launch a public relations campaign to educate the public once the sirens are functional.
In other emergency news, county residents could see flood insurance rates drop by up to 10 percent.
Planning Director Sandy Mellert asked commissioners to sign a letter of intent to participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Rating System.