STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Now, people in Florida did get a warning of the tornado that Shelly Mickle described. The emergency alert system in that community relied on radio station 88.3 FM to distribute information. Dean O'Neal was on the air there overnight when the storm hit.
DEAN O: Seconds after the weather service issued their warning, we put it out over almost every AM and FM station and TV station in the marketplace. But how large is your audience at 3:00 in the morning? And so I started asking the people that were listening to our radio station, Z 88.3, please call anyone that lives where the storm was headed and let them know that danger is on the way.
INSKEEP: Dean O'Neal and others want Florida to build a network of sirens for its warning system. Few Florida communities have them.
NEAL: Just about every state in Tornado Alley has utilized these sirens. I remember at my parents' home in Kansas City, we were probably two miles away from the nearest tornado siren. But it had absolutely no problem waking us up in the middle of the night if they set it off for an approaching storm.
INSKEEP: Residents in Central Florida had just over 15 minutes to react this time, if they got the news. Now, building sirens statewide would be costly but officials have discussed other ways of warning people for the next storm, including text messages on cell phones and special weather radios activated by storm alerts.
(SOUNDBITE OF ACCORDION MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Maybe have an accordion warning system. This is NPR News.
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