Tornado sirens arrive in Tellico Plains

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TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. (WVLT) - Almost one year ago, an EF-2 tornado tore through Tellico Plains, wiping out homes and ripping up lives.

In the age of social media and cell phones, it surprised the city's mayor how many people had no idea that last March's tornado was going to hit.

Thankfully no one was killed, but the town was looking for a way to be more prepared.

"We live in a rural area, and a lot of people work outside here so don't have access to cell phones or satellite TVs," said Mayor Patrick Hawkins.

Mayor Hawkins says he was already thinking of getting tornado sirens, and after last year, that idea seemed more important than ever.

So he and Mike Atkins, a town resident who works for Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative, began looking for ways to get them for the town. Atkins contacted the TVA.

"Found out that TVA was in the process of changing those sirens out around their nuclear plants, and they were in Alabama, starting to do that, moving to the Watts Bar area," said Atkins.

Now three of those old sirens are sitting on a hill by the community center.

"No cost to the town at all. It was all donated by the TVA," said Hawkins.

The poles won't be in the ground for several more months, when a new computer connected to the national weather service is installed.

They will be spread out across the town, so everyone there can hear when a tornado is approaching.

Atkins says the county is planning to get nine more sirens, putting three each in Sweetwater, Madisonville and Vonore.

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