Trial By Fire--New Alarms Sound Before their Time

In Gilmer, authorities say their new emergency alert system arrived just in time. Firefighters enacted five new emergency alarms Tuesday night when a tornado touched down in nearby Wood County. All five of the sirens were supposed to be tested Wednesday afternoon, but the bad weather caused the high powered sirens to sound off twelve hours earlier.

"It woke me and my husband up," recalls Misty Hensley, a resident whose never heard a siren in her area before. "We had time to get something get the kids into a safe place. Normally, we don't hear much of anything."

Firefighter Mike Melton says the alarms sounded off for the first time without a hitch. The sirens replace the city's old Army alarm, which has only enough power to reach half the community.

"It was our first real incident with the system and we were able to use it," adds Melton. "It works very well."

Grant money from FEMA helped the city install the new sirens. The fire department also added a generator, which enables the sirens operate during a power outage.