Kokomo unveils citizens alerts as storm season approaches
As tornado victims in Kokomo rebuild, they know severe weather season is on its way.
"The house behind me, they had no warning and the people were in that house," said contractor Charlie Ellis.
Adam Beheler says he didn't get advance warning, either.
"No sir, I was actually at home asleep on the couch and I heard it sounded like the house was blowing over," he said.
"My question is, 'Why weren't the sirens going off here?'," asks Bernita Griffin.
There are no sirens around Kokomo. The city uses weather radios instead. But now, Howard County's new citizens alert system is up and running. Sign up and you'll get warnings to phones and portable devices of weather and other emergencies.
"We need something like that," Griffin said.
The Griffins were watching weather on television, so they were alert. But their neighbors?
"I think it caught them off guard a little bit, as well as other people," said Roy Griffin.
The Griffins say they'll sign up for the county's new alert system just to cover all their bases.
"I think the warning could've been a little more advanced," said Reggie Fowler. "A little farther out. I don't think people expected two tornadoes in one place."
Fowler and his dog had enough time to get to their crawlspace, but he'll sign up for the notices, too. He hadn't heard about the plan until we told him.
"November 17, we had plenty of notice," said Gerald Jefferson.
But he'll sign up anyway for messages that will be sent by the Everbridge company, a private vendor that handled emergency messages during Superstorm Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing. The sheriff has said Everbridge can dispatch messages quickly to the area's population.
As he worked on a house, Beheler said he doesn't want to be caught off guard again. He wants his daughter warned, too.
"A tree actually fell on the building they were in at the birthday party. I could have got hold of them, maybe tell them to seek shelter," he said.