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EMA Recommends Residents Make Severe Weather Shelter Plans

Published on March 22, 2020

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The National Weather Service in Huntsville is forecasting storms this week, some possibly severe, and the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency is recommending residents consider their plan for shelter.

The decision to seek protection in a community storm shelter may be more difficult this spring by restrictions in place for COVID-19.

“Each individual needs to make an educated decision on where and when to shelter from strong winds or tornado,” said Jeffrey Birdwell, Director of the Huntsville Madison Emergency Management Agency.

At this time, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending your first priority is to protect yourself from a potential tornado.  If a warning is issued for your area, you are more likely to be affected by the tornado than the coronavirus.

However, the decision to open a community shelter will be made at the local or county level.  Before you go to a community shelter, check with your community shelter manager to ensure they will be open and if there are considerations in place for COVID-19. Wherever you choose to shelter, use as many precautions as possible to inhibit the spread of coronavirus.


For those who rely on public community shelters, now may be the time to explore other options that keep you safe from severe weather and limit your exposure to COVID-19.

The best way to prepare for this potential scenario is to keep up with the latest weather forecast as well as the latest recommendations regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the ADPH, and local authorities.

For more information, contact Jeff Birdwell, EMA Director, 256-427-5130, jeffrey.birdwell@huntsvilleal.gov