Severe storms in South lead to emergency declarations in three states
April 13, 2020
Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have declared states of emergency after severe storms threaten the states amid a crisis already in progress. Several people were killed over the weekend after storms wreaked havoc across the South.
On Sunday, April 12, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a state of emergency proclamation. Ivey’s proclamation comes after severe storms tore through several southern states. Although Alabama was not hit as hard compared to other states, Ivey’s proclamation is more proactive as the state expects more severe storms.
“This severe weather event, coupled with the COVID-19 public health emergency, poses extraordinary conditions of disaster and of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property with the state, and it is anticipated that these conditions, by reason of their magnitude, are, or are likely to be, beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city, and will require combined forces to combat,” the proclamation states.
Executive orders related to COVID-19 will be suspended if they will endanger people affected by severe weather. Anyone not affected by severe storms are still beholden to provisions still in effect under the COVID-19 orders. Even residents affected by storms are to abide by COVID-19 orders as much as possible.
In addition to certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations being waived for hauling loads related to relief efforts for COVID-19, those regulations will now be waived for truckers hauling loads for relief efforts related to severe storms.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also declared a state of emergency on April 12. Unlike Alabama’s declaration, Louisiana’s does not address previous orders related to COVID-19. However, it will allow truckers to suspend certain FMCSA regulations for relief efforts related to severe storms in addition to COVID-19.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves signed a state of emergency declaration on Easter Sunday. Reeves’ declaration, like Louisiana’s, is more basic and typical of severe weather declarations during normal times. Regarding commercial vehicles, it will have the same effect as Alabama’s declaration. However, there is no mention of anything related to previous COVID-19 executive orders.
According to the National Weather Service, there were 60 tornado reports on April 12. The reports span from Texas to North Carolina. Additionally, there were more than 500 damaging wind reports and nearly 40 hail reports. NWS data shows seven deaths as a result of the severe storms, including four in South Carolina, one in Arkansas, one in Georgia and one in Mississippi.
However, local media reports reveal more deaths from the severe storms. The Daily Citizen-News in Georgia is reporting five were killed in Murray County. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is reporting 11 deaths in the state, bringing the total nationwide to more than 20 deaths related to severe storms.
According to PowerOutage.us, more than 200,000 customers in North Carolina are out of power as of 11 a.m. CDT. Nearly 200,000 are without power in South Carolina, more than 135,000 in Arkansas and more than 100,000 in Virginia.