An Alabama family was turned away from a shelter as storms raged through the area because they did not have enough masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, WHNT News reported.
Dozens have been killed across Southern states as devastating storms raged throughout the weekend and earlier this week, with tornadoes cropping up in some places. More than 30 people have died, including at least 11 in Mississippi, nine in South Carolina and eight in Georgia, The New York Times reported.
One family from Crossville, Ala., was denied entry to a shelter Sunday because they did not have enough face masks for every person with them.
“The guy actually opened the door, he motioned, do you have a mask? I held up my mask. I said I have one mask, I can put it on the child. He motioned no and shut the door,” one woman said who she tried to enter a Crossville shelter. She was accompanied by her daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter.
The family said they ran to their car in pouring rain, as a tornado traveled over nearby Boaz, Ala., WHNT reported.
“Actually twice trying to get somewhere, we nearly wrecked. I just wanted to squall all the way home. I had to keep it together you know?” the woman continued. She said the shelter was not full and that she could have maintained a 6-foot distance from other people there.
Officials from Dekalb County, Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency told the outlet that the family should have been allowed into the shelter. However, they added that the municipality makes the rules for shelters, not emergency officials.
Crossville Mayor Tera Fortenberry shared a warning on Facebook about the requirement to wear a mask Saturday, writing “The storm shelter will OPEN Sunday April 12th at 11am — With the current COVID-19 Virus pandemic — Please try to remain calm and keep your distance as much as possible. YOU ARE ENTERING AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
“Everyone has to wear a mask to be allowed to enter. (Homemade mask, medical masks or a bandana tied to cover your nose and mouth is acceptable ),” she continued.
The anonymous woman told the outlet that she had not seen the social media post.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a state of emergency Sunday temporarily suspending all coronavirus orders, calling for all shelters and community safe rooms to stay open and maintain “reasonable practices and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” The Associated Press reported.