Alabama family without enough face masks denied entry to storm shelter during tornado warning


DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – As severe storms that produced tornadoes tore through Boaz, Alabama, residents of nearby DeKalb County made their way to nearby storm shelters.

But not all families were allowed inside.

One Crossville family, who would like to stay anonymous, was denied entry because they didn’t have enough face masks.

The recommendation is not a law. Each county and each city makes their own decisions. Some shelters are not open at all. Others are requiring a mask.

“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,” said one woman as she tried to enter the shelter in Crossville.

Left in the pouring rain with a tornado over Boaz, the family ran to their car.

“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?” said the woman.

DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency said the family probably should have been allowed in given the incoming tornado. However, EMA offices do not make those decisions — the municipality makes and enforces the rules.

The woman claims the shelter was not full and she could have maintained a 6-foot distance away from the other people in the shelter.

Crossville Mayor Tera Fortenberry had posted on Facebook, warning the community about the face-covering policy.

Part of the post read: “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.)”

The woman who was denied entry said she did not see the social media post because she does not use Facebook often.

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