FORT VALLEY, GA.-- - Over the next few months, Peach County will get something that will help notify them during a natural disaster, new tornado sirens.
Inside Khoury's Menswear in Fort Valley, business is still booming after decades. Owner James Khoury remembers when things looked a little different after a tornado hit Peach County back in 1975.
"My neighbor drove up. It was about 5:30 or so in the afternoon, but he said, 'Did you hear about downtown?' I said, 'No,' and he said, 'Well, it's gone.' All I could think about was my whole family was down there,” recalls Khoury.
He says back then, they needed more tornado sirens, and now they are getting more than they have ever had.
Jeff Noles, Peach County's Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief, says they will get 10 sirens installed this year and 10 next year. He says most of the sirens, those labeled in red on the map, will be in outlying areas.
"Of course, we have to put them where the population is. We don't want to put one out in the middle of nowhere where we only serve one person, but we try to put them as centrally located as we can in populated areas so we can cover them. But this will give us a lot more coverage,” explains Noles.
Peach County commissioner chairman Martin Moseley says SPLOST funds will pay for the sirens.
"Well, this SPLOST was approved by the people back in 2014. These sirens cost approximately $225,000, I think they came to. Somewhere between that and a quarter of a million dollars,” says Moseley.
County leaders hoping that more sirens will keep them ahead of tornadoes like the one that damaged the Fort Valley back in 2005.
"We've had our share of tornadoes. We just want to be prepared and protect our population as much as possible,” says Noles.
Those first 10 sirens are set to be installed by the end of July. They are solar-powered and run automatically based off of the national weather service’s alerts. Peach County also has the Code Red weather system.
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