Family Blocked From Storm Shelter During Tornado Because They Didn't Have Masks

Holly Matkin

The female resident was with her daughter and three-year-old grandchild when she was denied entry to the shelter.

Crossville, AL – An Alabama family was turned away from their local storm shelter as a tornado bared down on them on Easter Sunday because they didn’t bring enough face masks with them.

The female resident, who did not want to be identified, said she loaded up her daughter her three-year-old grandchild and headed to the Crossville storm shelter after hearing a news broadcast about the impending severe weather, WHNT reported.

The news outlet’s chief meteorologist issued a warning that “it would be wiser to face the COVID-19 than to stay in a mobile home,” the woman recounted.

WHNT later confirmed that they had broadcast “that exact CDC and EMA-approved statement.”

But when the family reached the safety of the shelter, they were stopped at the doorway.

“The guy actually opened the door, he motioned, ‘do you have a mask?’” the woman said. “I held up one mask. I said ‘I have one mask I can put it on the child.’ He motioned no and shut the door.”

With no other options available, the family made their way back to their vehicle and headed home in the downpour, WHNT reported.

“Twice trying to get somewhere, we nearly wrecked,” she recalled. “I just wanted to squall all the way home. I had to keep it together, you know?”

The woman said that her family could have stayed six feet away from other residents inside the shelter, which she claimed was nowhere near full, WHNT reported.

In preparation for the severe weather, Crossville Mayor Tera Fortenberry made a Facebook post that included details about the face mask rules.

“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,” the post read. “YOU ARE ENTERING AT YOUR OWN RISK. Everyone has to wear a mask to be allowed to enter. (Homemade mask, medical masks or a bandanna tied to cover your nose and mouth is acceptable).”

But the woman whose family was turned away from the shelter said she doesn’t use the social media platform very often and that she hadn’t even seen Fortenberry’s post.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey had temporarily suspended the state’s stay-at-home order in anticipation of the deadly storms, according to the Associated Press.

Ivey said that community safe rooms and shelters should remain open despite the pandemic, and that locations should maintain “reasonable practices and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

According to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the family should have been allowed into the shelter even without having enough masks, WHNT reported.

But the EMA also noted that municipalities are responsible for establishing their own requirements, and that the EMA has no power over such decisions.

As of Thursday, 5,635 Alabama residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 203 have died, according to Bing’s COVID-19 Tracker.

Comments (64)
No. 1-19
Tsunamismommy
Tsunamismommy

So they don't care that her and the children could have died in the storm? This is total overreach.

ArkyArgyle
ArkyArgyle

Wish I could be a juror in that lawsuit.

DSmom
DSmom

People are losing their humanity!

Daughter
Daughter

Disgraceful!!!! That is NOT WHAT GOD WOULD HAVE DONE I hope that bothers them the rest of their lives!!!!THANK THE LORD they are ok

postit
postit

I would have stood right there, taken my shirt or bra off, and put it over my face and walked in half naked.

Bigyoda20
Bigyoda20

Useless feck’n humans!

Davidtwmay24
Davidtwmay24

Take a sock off.. put it around your mouth.. home made mask in under a min
...

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Um, if everyone inside the shelter who wants masks is wearing a mask, they are protected.

Duh.

Let's let the children get hit by lightning instead.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

She put the children in danger by not masking them. She wouldn't have had any issues if she complied and thought about the safety of everyone else. Irresponsible.

Sgt167
Sgt167

I think the impending tornado trumps the covert virus as far as which emergency is of higher risk. Those people in that shelter should be ashamed. Disgusting human beings

RmdGRD
RmdGRD

This is what happens when the media has stirred so much fear into society that they are no longer society. What a POS. Fear, the great killer.

MomaL
MomaL

Fear is insidious, it saps intelligence and knowledge out of one's brain, and voila! You have the beginning of anarchy. The media doesn't need to stir fear, into the population, because those who are fearful begin to make selfish and unwise decisions. Running rampant in any place of business, for merchandise, that is not going to accommodate a horde of panic-stricken people, who want to " get as much ", as they can, before anyone else could do the same, is not the way to do things, in such dire circumstances.
We have paper product shortages, groceries are harder to buy, because people have decided to horde a lot,for themselves, never caring about other people. Mob mentality, at its lowest ebb. So, it is my opinion that those who continue to make their hordes bigger, should begin to think very clearly, about what this selfish behavior is teaching their children.
Yes, everyone wants to survive disasters, but at what price? The deaths of others who starve, because the pandemic is too lengthy, or the elderly who have no one to gather in a few supplies, for their survival, or the poor, who have very little, to begin with?
If any one who is hording, and not sharing that horde, with those who have nothing, then, they should never judge anyone else, for anything. Times like this, it is so very simple to judge, castigate, and denigrate, each other, but what good does this kind of rhetoric, do? Nothing of value, nor honor, nor justice, nor common decency, that's for sure. I am thinking positive thoughts, that loving hearts and cooler heads will prevail, and this terrible disease, and chaotic human behavior will finally cease, and life can once again begin to thrive in an atmosphere of stability, courage, compassion, and unconditional love, of each and every person we meet. Blessings to all of you.

Green Lily
Green Lily

One question, since you can be carrying the virus without symptoms, can they guarantee that everyone in the shelter was virus free? If they weren't then perhaps they could have spread it by touching the door handle. I don't think that all were wearing gloves. It's a shame that they chose to sacrifice people to a storm than letting them in.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

Get out the checkbook, Stupid decisions cost lots of money!

Marxest
Marxest

Were they barred from the shelter because of white racism or because they didn't have masks?

Pack
Pack

I’d have knocked that guy on his ass and went in.

iUsername
iUsername

For the record I live in Alabama not too far from where this happened. Everyone I know would have let her in. Shameful

suzieb
suzieb

Its absolutely unbelievable this little family was turned away in a major storm!!! And who put that jerk-off in charge to deny them entry! I hope he has a 3 yr old granddaughter and remembers what he did EVERY TIME he looks at her. You will have to answer to God, sure would love to hear his explanation.

cops-kid
cops-kid

In hindsight one bra would’ve made two masks... and a decent slingshot, I’m glad everything worked out okay


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