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Social distancing isn't guaranteed inside storm shelters

While local EMA officials can't promise social distancing inside storm shelters, they and health officials say protection from a tornado is top priority.

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala — It's the season for severe weather, and it comes at a time when we're all trying to keep a safe distance from each other to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

EMA directors are saying they can't guarantee social distancing inside the county shelters.

In Lauderdale County,  EMA Director George Grabryan says it normally doesn't get too crowded inside the shelters and that they still have room even on their busiest days. This season, the shelters will be open as usual.

"Hopefully we will have sufficient space that we can social distance these folks," said Grabryan. "The virus is here, but so is severe weather. We see it every year this time of year, and we know the kind of carnage it can cause."

The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends your first priority is to protect yourself from a tornado and that if a warning is issued in your area you are more likely to be affected by that than COVID-19.

"When it's a tornado watch, we want people moving toward that shelter," said Grabryan. "And we certainly want them already set if we end up going under a warning. [Severe weather] is something we deal with in Alabama every year. This virus is new. If people will take the same precautions they'd take in a heavy flu season and maintain social distancing, we should make it through this severe season just fine."

Find a list of shelters across North Alabama here

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