Despite today's date, 1 p.m. warning sirens only a test

BY MARY WILCOP
For the Daily
Published September 10, 2007

At exactly 1 p.m. today, 22 sirens around Ann Arbor will blare as the city tests its outdoor warning system.

It's nothing new. The city routinely tests the system for one minute on the second Tuesday of every month from March to November.

This month's test could cause some alarm, though, because it falls on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Dean of Students Sue Eklund's office sent a mass e-mail to students last night to explain why the alarms will be sounding. The letter did not directly reference Sept. 11.

Some students said they didn't immediately realize that today is the anniversary of the attacks, while others said they deleted the warning e-mail without opening it because it was sent from an administration e-mail address. LSA sophomore Mike Enochs said he doesn't usually open mail sent by University officials.

"I don't really look at stuff that isn't important, that's not related to my classes or department," he said.

While students originally from the Midwest, might be familiar with siren tests, students from other areas of the country, where tornados are less frequent might not. LSA senior Molly Block said she remembered being alarmed her freshman year when emergency sirens were tested during fall semester finals week.

"I was freaking out," she said.

Block, who grew up in Aptos, Calif., had never heard citywide sirens before. Local emergency systems are usually state-funded but aren't required by law, meaning some cities choose to do without them.

In the case of a real emergency - like a tornado warning, hazardous materials spill or a nuclear attack - Ann Arbor's sirens will be sounded for three minutes. Citizens are directed to take cover indoors and seek a radio or television for more information.