Community storm shelters prepare for severe weather during a pandemic

Community storm shelters prepare for severe weather during a pandemic
(Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - County leaders and Emergency management staff are making final preparations before Sunday’s First Alert Weather Day.

Governor Ivey released a statement Saturday saying the state stands ready to face Mother Nature and reminding people to take advantage of open shelters and make their safety a priority, even as we deal with the coronavirus.

Jefferson County leaders say all shelters will open Sunday if needed and they’ve worked to get two additional shelters ready.

“McDonald’s Chapel and Martinstown - which is a little south of Bessemer - those are new this year and the certificate of occupancy was issued so we could get them open for this event,” said County Commission Chair Jimmie Stephens.

Families are being asked to bring masks and gloves.

Carbon Hill Police posted on their Facebook that those items are required for their shelter use in Calhoun County and Walker County.

But even as the governor urges shelter protection, some will not be open.

Gadsden and Etowah County leaders say they’ll only open hardened shelters, not community centers or church basement, citing concerns about the pandemic.

There was also some confusion about whether or not shelters would open in Alexander City. Initially the city announced they would not open shelters, but then announced they will open city hall as a shelter starting at 1:00 pm tomorrow.

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