Storm causes OL officials to re-think emergency system

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 The severe storm from Sunday may lead to significant changes to Oak Lawn’s new tornado system, which has been the subject of criticism since it was installed in the summer.
  Police Lt. Art Clark, who heads the village’s emergency management system, said the village may eliminate the system’s automated voices and rely solely on a longer tone to warn people of tornadoes and other disasters.
  “This is one of the things we’re looking at,” Clark said.
  Currently, the system features a siren as well as voice capabilities that communicate to residents in English, Spanish, Polish and Arabic. Warnings are broadcast in English first followed by the other three languages. English is not the first language spoken in 26 percent of Oak Lawn homes, Clark said.
  Some residents have complained that the siren is too loud or too soft, while others believe messages should be broadcast solely in English, Clark said. Still others have complained that the system does not include their native language, he said.
  The system is designed for outdoor notification, Clark said. There are six sets of sirens strategically located throughout the village, he said. Messages can be communicated from the police station or a squad car and to one or all of the speakers, he said. He said it is impossible to ensure that every resident will hear the siren clearly.
  To further alert residents of weather-related disasters, the village is offering coupons for a 50 percent discount on a NOAA Weather Radio. The coupons will distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Dec. 7 at village hall and can be redeemed at Walgreens, 4740 W. 95th St. The cost of the radio with the coupon is $20.
  The radios broadcast information from the National Weather Service.