Donations help Piner, Kentucky get new tornado alert system

PINER, Ky. -- A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Piner, Ky. Wednesday to unveil a new tornado alert siren in a community that was devastated by a tornado outbreak in 2012.


While the small town has worked hard to repair and rebuild since the devastating twister on March 2, 2012, the purchasing a new $25,000 alert system couldn’t have been done without the help of the Kenton County Rotary Club.

Owen Electric and Duke Energy also donated money to help purchase the new siren that stands high in the sky above the small Northern Kentucky town. It's one of about three-dozen such alert systems in Kenton County.

An additional $12,000 is being used to purchase other equipment to help emergency responders prepare to deal with the next worst-case scenario.

"This is now 1 of 35 sirens in Kenton County, so hopefully we're covering people and saving some lives in the future," said Jeff Simpson, president of the Kenton County Rotary Club.

The outbreak of nine tornadoes that tore through parts of Northern Kentucky, eastern Indiana, southwest Ohio and Alabama in spring 2012 resulted in the death of 41 people, including 11 locally (four in Kenton County). 

The storms resulted in 22 tornado-related fatalities in Kentucky. Other deaths were reported in Alabama (1), Indiana (13) and Ohio (4).

It's also estimated that thousands of people in Kenton and Grant counties were impacted by the meteorological event. One of those people was Bill Schneider, whose rental property was one of 88 homes in the Piner area badly damaged by the storms.

While his property is still being rebuilt a year and a half later, he calls the the donation proof that people remember what happened March 2 and "still want to help."

"This siren is just another example that people still love us and people still want to help us out," he said.

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