GREENFIELD — There is a level of uncertainty that comes with any bad storm. Howling winds and heavy rain have the power to darken skies and knock out electricity, leaving families huddling for safety and wondering what’s going on outside their windows.
Katie Floyd was certain she didn’t want any of her neighbors facing bad weather without some level of warning.
Now, thanks to the 18-year-old’s fundraising efforts, the residents of Green Township will soon hear the distinct wail of a tornado siren should bad weather approach their neighborhoods. The sound will come from a bright green alarm that is scheduled to be placed in front of the Green Township Fire Department later this month.
Floyd said she began working on the project after hearing about the damage caused when four tornadoes ripped through the little southern Indiana town of Henryville in 2012. Her father, Scott, made trips south to help clean trees and rubble from the area and always returned with stories of sadness and hardship.
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These tales got Floyd thinking, she said, and she sprang into action when she discovered no tornado sirens were positioned anywhere in Green Township, where she and her family live. She knew she needed to do something to prevent devastation like Henryville from happening in her backyard.
A tornado siren won’t guarantee safety, but it does increase the chances of a person going inside if it sounds during bad weather.
Floyd, a senior at Greenfield-Central High School and longtime Girl Scout, spent the better part of two years fundraising and applying for grants, with the hope that she’d raise enough money to buy a siren for her hometown.
Earlier this year, she hit the $11,000 mark and made contact with Federal Signal, an Illinois-based company that specializes in mass-notification systems. The company agreed to help Floyd achieve the remainder of her goal, build the siren and cover the installation.
Sirens of this type usually cost more than $17,000, Gabriella Churchill, a spokeswoman for Federal Signal, said. This one will be painted bright green and will display the Girl Scout logo.
The device was assembled in early April, and Floyd was able to visit the factory during her spring break where she was given a chance to assist with the final touches.
George Boaz, deputy direct of emergency management in Hancock County, said this is the first time he’s ever heard of a siren being donated by a private citizen. Usually township or county officials decide when and where they will be installed, but none had been placed in Green Township.
In admiration for Floyd’s hard work, Federal Signal created the Federal Signal Citizenship Award, which will now be given in Floyd’s honor to other young people who make a difference in their communities.
The hours of work spent on the project have helped Floyd earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest prize given by the organization. The purpose of the Gold Award project is to encourage girls to show leadership and initiative in helping their communities.
Once the siren is delivered, it will be installed on the grounds of the Green Township Fire Department.
Fire Chief Bob Holland is grateful.
“I’m glad she had the ambition to do this,” he said. “No one in Green Township or the rest of the county has stepped forward, that I know of, to do something like this.”