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St. Francois County places new storm sirens at two locations

Paid for with FEMA grant and county-budgeted funds


Using a combination of a grant and budgeted funds to cover purchase and installation costs, the St. Francois County Commission announced Tuesday that two storm sirens had been erected — one near the Terre du Lac Country Club and another behind the baseball fields at West County Elementary School in the community of Frankclay.

According to Nick Jones, St. Francois County Emergency Management director, the county commission approved the project’s funding in the budget and also let his department apply for an Emergency Management Performance Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the balance.

St. Francois County Emergency Management Director Nick Jones discusses two new storm sirens recently installed — one in Terre du Lac and the other in the Frankclay community. (Photo by Kevin R. Jenkins)

“Since 2020, we’ve applied for the Emergency Management Performance Grant, and we have gotten it every year,” he said. “It pays for half the salaries of myself, the director of emergency management and the assistant director, which is Chuck Farr. It pays for our benefits and other things. In the last two years, they put out what they call the mini-grant. Last year, we got our pickup truck off of it, and then this year, we were able to get $25,000 for putting in one of the sirens.”

A newly erected storm siren near the Terre du Lac Country Club is one of two recently installed by SFC Emergency Management with funds provided by a FEMA grant and county money. (Submitted photo)

Explaining how the sites were selected for the new storm sirens, Jones said, “We chose Terre du Lac because we were able to cover an area with a large number of people with one siren. We wanted to be able to warn everybody. As for the other one, we put it by the school to make sure they would be aware of severe weather, but it also helps the surrounding community as well.

“The biggest misconception that everybody has and that we’ve seen is, ‘Well, I can’t hear it from my house.’ These people have got to realize that these are outdoor warning sirens. They’re made for people who are out on the golf course, out on the lake, and outside at recess. If you can hear it inside your house, that’s awesome, but that’s not what they’re designed for.”

Jones mentioned a free program offered by the county that provides residents with both current and future local weather conditions.

“It’s called RAVE,” he said. “You can get weather alerts through your cell phone, or it will call your home phone. You can also get email notifications, and it’s free to get into. You can even select which alerts you want. The biggest thing I always hear is, ‘Well, I don’t want to know that it’s going to be snowing three days from now from an alert I get at 2 o’clock in the morning’ or ‘I don’t really care about floods because I don’t live in a flood area.’ You can go into the app and turn those off, where you only get severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

“And all the other stuff — like not needing to know that it’s going to snow in three days — I understand that. We just turned it on because some people who sign up for RAVE want to know about that stuff. And if that’s what they want to do, that’s awesome. That’s what it’s there for. But the big thing is, if you don’t want it, turn it off. Get the alerts that you think you need. If anybody needs help getting enrolled in the RAVE system, you can call me at 431-2777, ext. 6125, and I’ll be happy to help anybody. I’ve helped set up several people. I don’t mind doing that at all.”

While the RAVE app is available on the iPhone App Store or the Google Play Store for Android, Jones offered some good news for those who are less tech-savvy.

“Honestly, you don’t really need the app,” he said. “You can go sign up on a computer, and you don’t have to put anything on your phone. You’ll get the alerts until you want to turn it off. Most people use the app to sign up because it’s easier. Most everybody has a cell phone in their pocket, but you can also go to our website, Click on the ‘Departments’ tab and then click on ‘Emergency Management.’ You’ll find a RAVE sign-in or sign-up link there.”

While Jones is pleased with the progress that has been made, he admitted some areas in St. Francois County still need sirens.

“Oh, there’s definitely several areas out in the rural area that’s still lacking,” he said. “My hope is to start a county-wide siren system. A lot of the cities do have their own systems, and we want to add them out in the county for the rural areas. Of course, if the budgeting is not there, it’s not there, and we can’t do it. But we are going to try to do it. We’ve got a couple of spots picked out, possibly for next year, if we get the budgeting and the amount of money that we’ve asked for.”

Jones said he appreciated the support given to St. Francois County Emergency Management.

“The county commission has given us an opportunity to grow and get better equipment for the county. That’s one of my big goals — to try to help everybody get prepared,” he said. “We don’t want to see a tornado come through an area and them not be prepared. You’ve got to have your supplies last a few days in case you don’t have power, and that’s where we would like to be.”

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