Andrews County Fire Marshal clarifies non-use of sirens in Tuesday’s storm


Tuesday night’s storm across New Mexico and Texas was intense. And in Andrews County it left some serious damage in its trail.

But since the storm, many have voiced their concerns about why no warning sirens were sounded across the city Tuesday night.

“The outside sirens are an external warning device,” says Fire Marshal Mike Cook. “They are not designed to warn people in their homes. They are designed to warn people out and about, in the parks and that nature.”

Cook says Andrews relies on spotters and reports from the National Weather Service to determine if the threat is credible for sirens. He says that Tuesday’s storms weren’t severe enough inside city limits.

“If you are right there where the tornado is coming down, I don’t know how much it’s going to help you,” said Vernon Wilhelm.

Wilhelm saw his Port Arthur home damaged in Hurricane Harvey, and Tuesday night, his home outside of Andrews. In the county there are no sirens, the fire marshal says it would be too difficult with the size of the county. Instead, Wilhelm relied on social media and television to get to safety.

“We were sitting there watching the television, when Suddenlink actually changed the channel and gave us the warning,” said Wilhelm.

And this ability to get warnings from television and social media, instead of waiting for the siren to sound, is the message Fire Marshal Cook wants to get across.

“That information can be gotten out much more quickly, and much timely in manner as far as the watches and the warnings are concerned,” he said.

Andrews has its own notification system. If you would like to be a part, click this link here.

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