• Gordon Co. estimates tornado damaged 500 homes, debates sirens

    By: Rachel Stockman


    GORDON COUNTY, Ga. - It has been nearly a week since the EF 3 tornado ripped through parts of Bartow and Gordon counties, and the massive clean-up effort continues.

    In Gordon County, the count of damaged homes is up to about 500.

    Residents are also utilizing social media to find their belongings, including photos and pictures.

    "We found a lot of stuff on Facebook," said Mary Petitt, whose garage with many of her family photographs were blown away during the tornado on Wednesday.

    With the reality of the storm setting in, there is also growing concern about the county's tornado sirens.

    "All my life I have heard the tornado alarm go off, that is what I was waiting on," said Jamie Waters, a Gordon County Resident.

    Channel 2 brought those concerns to Richard Cooper, the Gordon County director of emergency management, who explained that the county is phasing out the tornado sirens, in exchange for the Code Red alert system.

    The system, which was first implemented in 2010, alerts residents via phone of a tornado warning, if they register their phone with the county.

    "It is actually a phone call, a recording from the national weather service through an automated system," Cooper told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.

    Cooper said the tornado sirens are too expensive to maintain, and are a dated technology.

    "The new technology is the best way to go and it's the best way to reach the most amount of people inside Gordon County," explained Cooper

    Mary Petitt, whose house has been hit twice by tornadoes, says she signed up for the system.

    "I can get it no matter where I am, it doesn't matter if I'm within earshot of a siren," Petitt said.

    Others are pushing for the county to reconsider their new policy.

    "I talked to a lot of people and they are very upset because they didn't know that Gordon County had taken that away from us," Water said.

    The Calhoun City administrator said they are looking to work out a deal with Gordon County, so that the 12 sirens within city limits can be maintained.

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