Is the Basin Prepared for Tornados?

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - The Dallas area is still in shock over Tuesday's devastating tornados. Experts now say somewhere between six and thirteen twisters touched down.

Just a few weeks ago, a tornado blew through Gardendale in Ector County. Homes were destroyed and locals were left shaken up. Gardendale has no tornado sirens.

In fact, there are no sirens anywhere in Ector County or in Odessa.

Odessa Public Information Officer Andrea Goodson says, "I can't tell you exactly why we don't have [them]. I've heard everything from the cost or they're not as effective as people think. [There are] various reasons."

The Ector County Commissioners' office says it is impractical and costly to place sirens all over place. There's too much land to cover.

Ector County and Odessa say they rely on the National Weather Service to send out alerts over the radio and television. If a tornado were to blow in, all important officials would gather in a special emergency operation center in the basement of the police department and continue their operations from there.

"[They'd be] working with the media to let them know if shelters are being set up or working with the Red Cross to make sure those shelters are being set up and getting all the key players together and working in one room," Goodson said.

Ector County and Odessa tell NewsWest 9 they are just as prepared as Dallas was. Midland County and the city of Midland say the same. The city of Midland, however, does have tornado sirens. A map of them can be found on the city's website.

Midland County does not have sirens for the same reason Ector County lacks them.

Midland City and County Emergency Management Coordinator, Dale Little, says, "We would have to have so many of them scattered across the county in a 900 square mile area that it would take so many sirens."

Midland County and the city of Midland say their plan is the same as Odessa and Ector County's plan. They'd rely on alerts from the National Weather Service. All crucial management officials would give commands from their emergency operation center in the basement of the Midland Police Department.