MOORHEAD - More tornado sirens throughout the city here are getting battery backups next year so they'll still give warning when the power is out, according to City Council member Brenda Elmer.
She said she added funding to the city budget, approved by the council last Monday, to pay for the upgrades after The Forum wrote about the issue in April.
"Emergency preparedness is one of government's most critical roles upon which our constituents rely," she said in an email. "That is why, when it was brought to our attention that we had a potential gap, we made sure it was addressed in the budget."
Currently, 10 of the city's 15 sirens do not have battery backups, a contrast with other metro-area cities, which have batteries on either all or nearly all their sirens. Power often is lost during storms that produce tornadoes.
The 2018 budget has $46,500 set aside for upgrading five of the sirens. Four more are expected to be upgraded in 2019; the remaining siren won't be upgraded because it's old and other sirens' coverage area overlaps it. The city would also set aside $5,000 for maintenance in 2018.
The Fire Department had planned to add battery backups when major upgrades are due but, as The Forum reported, that won't be a while because most of the sirens were installed in the early 2000s.
Assistant Fire Chief Chad Stangeland earlier said the department has other ways of warning the public of tornadoes or other severe weather, such as cell phone alerts and news media. The priority with sirens in recent years was to add new ones in Oakport and at the airport, not add battery backups, he said.