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No good choices: tornado shelters not opening in Dixie Alley due to threat of coronavirus

For the shelters that were open, people were scared of infection

Ron Thompson Jr. walks by a pile of debris on his family's property Friday, March 6, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Residents and businesses face a huge cleanup effort after tornadoes hit the state Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Ron Thompson Jr. walks by a pile of debris on his family's property Friday, March 6, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Residents and businesses face a huge cleanup effort after tornadoes hit the state Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A line of storms capable of producing tornadoes was set to move through Dixie Alley Tuesday night and emergency managers normally open tornado shelters in this situation. People that live in mobile homes or other structures not fit to be in during a tornado fill these shelters to ride out the wild weather.

The threat of coronavirus and the orders that range from social distancing, to not gathering, to sheltering in place left Emergency Managers questioning whether or not they should open the shelter, which could potentially spread the disease the measures were put into place to limit.

Some counties opened their shelters, most did in the state of Alabama, with the reasoning the threat of an immediate tornado outweighed the possibility of infection with coronavirus.

Even then, residents didn’t have any good choices. Elderly people and those with breathing problems or compromised immune systems that do live in trailers had to make a gut-wrenching, potentially life changing decision: go to a storm shelter where they will be safe from a tornado, but may contract a disease that they are most likely to die from, or ride out the night in their mobile home, which they know would not be safe if impacted by a tornado?

Some counties made the call to not open storm shelters, which left people in an already tough situation with no choices, not even the not-so-good options.


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