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County distributing weather radios

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County has a plan to put 95 emergency weather radios in nursing homes, senior centers, schools, sports stadiums and high-occupancy government buildings.

Alex Cohilas, chief of the county's fire department and director of emergency management, outlined the plan for the Board of Commissioners during Tuesday night's work session.

He told the commissioners the radios, WR-100, All Hazards Alert Weather Radios, were the "best sort of protection that money can buy" and the "best way to get the best information about severe weather and hazards."

Cohilas gave the commissioners a five-page list of public places to put the radios.

"It is my recommendation that we distribute radios to these facilities immediately," he said. "My staff and I would be more than glad to oversee the installation, programming and in-service training required to make these valuable tools fully operational."

Two hundred of the $29 radios were donated to the county, as part of a promotional measure by the company that makes them, and WSB-TV. The county does not yet know what it is going to do with the other 105 weather radios, which are currently in storage.

Cohilas said the 95 will be distributed and programmed, and staff will be trained to use the radios, within 10 days of the board's approval of the plan.

Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell was excited to have the radios, and said they would go a long way in allowing citizens to be prepared for emergencies and disasters. Bell said the radios seemed especially important after a tornado struck Ellenwood in May, leaving almost 200 homes damaged.

The storm struck in the middle of the night, on Mother's Day, and many of the area's residents were asleep. Many had no warning, and didn't know about the tornado until it hit their homes.

Sonna Singleton, Clayton County Commissioner for District 1, said she gets a lot of questions from her constituents about sirens and warning systems. The most efficient warning system, though, is one that will wake you up and give you good, in-depth information, like the weather radios, Singleton said.

"We all need to have these radios," she said.