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EMA official: Tornado trumps coronavirus in emergency situations


If a tornado or other severe weather event hits, emergency officials say those in the path of the storm should seek shelter, even if doing so breaks social distancing guidelines.

Still, Cole County EMA Director Sierra Thomas said citizens can plan ahead to protect themselves from both threats.

"If you are currently self-quarantining with your family in your home then you would proceed as normal,” Thomas said. “If you are currently in self-isolation which would require you to have your own bathroom and own bedroom and avoid contact with those in your home, then locating a secondary location in the event of a bad storm or tornado would need to be secured.”

Residents of mobile homes are advised against sheltering in those structures and to instead find a safe, secondary location. As the coronavirus has forced many businesses and public spaces to close or reduce hours, those residents are encouraged to check that their shelter location is available and if not, find another.

"Unfortunately, this is new territory for all of us and due to the current situation, a secondary location is needed," said Thomas.

Strong storms hit Mid-Missouri overnight Thursday into Friday and more are possible Friday into Saturday. The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather team has issued a Weather Alert Day for the area because of threats including a low risk of tornadoes.

"If you rely on a community safe room, make sure to first check with local officials to ensure it will be open," said the State Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Caty Luebbert. "This should be done well before any warnings are issued. Now is the time for all Missourians to consider the options to protect themselves against severe weather and limiting potential exposure to COVID-19."

More information on tornado preparedness can be found on the SEMA's website.

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Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.


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