Kokomo residents line up for $6 weather radios

Many Indiana communities, including Kokomo, do not have tornado sirens.
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Chris Proffitt/13 Investigates

Kokomo - A long line of people took action to protect themselves from severe weather. After a 13 Investigates report revealed Kokomo had no tornado sirens, the city launched a unique plan to put weather radios in the hands of all 15,000 residents.

Meteorologists have long preached how weather radios can save lives in severe weather. That's why lines formed outside the Kokomo's city hall on Monday. It's part of the city's plan to keep people safe year round - something that's been missing until now.

"This is going to be handy for me. I'm home and even when I've got the TV on, I don't hear it. I don't even hear the sirens," said Linda Myers, Kokomo resident.

That's because there are no warning sirens in Kokomo.

13 investigates found that Kokomo is one of just two cities or towns in Indiana without tornado warning sirens, leaving residents vulnerable in severe weather. Kokomo officials say the weather radios offer cheap 24-hour protection.

"We have around 15,000 households. If we have 5,000 households take us up on this, the city's cost is only about $50,000 which is a fraction of the $300,000 for tornado sirens and provides much more safety," said Mayor Greg Goodnight, Kokomo.

Working with Electronics retailer Best Buy, the city is subsidizing the cost of the radios which retail for $36. Kokomo buys then for $16 and charges residents just $6.41.

"I'd rather have the sirens but I'll take the radio if nothing else," said Francis Maxwell, Kokomo resident.

While nearly everyone calls it a good deal and potential lifesaver, there is one concern. The radios are battery operated.

"There's going to be a lot of radios I suspect that will be in the hands of older people that won't have a power source when a storm hits and they really need it," said Dave Gatchell, Kokomo.

While that is a concern, the city says the radios can and will save lives.

The weather radios are for sale this week at Kokomo's city hall, but you must live in Kokomo to qualify and be able to prove it with an ID and there's only one per household.