INDIAN SHORES, Fla. - Hurricane season is underway, and August through October is historically considered the peak for most major storms. Indian Shores has installed new hurricane sirens to help make sure residents know when they need to evacuate the barrier island.
"The biggest danger on the barrier island out here is water," said Major Glen Smith with the Indian Shores Police Department.
The town of Indian Shores is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. In a major storm, the water can rise on both sides, and it can be fast and unforgiving.
"Most of the people out here are well versed in hurricane season preparation," Smith said. "We talk to them about getting apps on their phones, watching the news when it comes time, paying attention to the weather reports of storms move closer and closer, being prepared, getting supplies, batteries, and having a place to go off the barrier island."
This season, new hurricane sirens were installed in the beach community, ready to warn people when it is time to leave their homes and businesses. Leaders hope the warning will help save lives. The sirens will be activated when there is a mandatory evacuation.
"We want people to leave the barrier island when there's a mandatory evacuation issued by the county," said Smith. "This is one more way to connect with people, to encourage them to leave."
A survey done by AAA found one in four Floridians would ignore hurricane evacuation warnings. Indian Shores police acknowledge there are always people who are reluctant to leave.
The new early warning siren system replaces speakers that have not worked for close to a decade.
"They were antiquated and beyond repair. So the town decided it was time to replace them. And that’s what we did," Smith said.
The three new sirens are solar battery-powered. The horns rotate when activated, sounding every couple of minutes. The movement maximizes the distance the sirens travel along the coast.
However, wind, buildings, and a soundproofed home could all affect who actually hears the siren when there is an evacuation order.
"We will do it periodically through the day when they issue a mandatory evacuation, so people who are coming and going, who may have been off the island and come back on, will hear it," explained Smith.
The system will be tested on the first Wednesday of every month at noon.