NORTH LITTLE ROCK— As we begin the month of April, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) is prepared to respond to potential severe weather while engaging the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 33 recorded tornadoes in Arkansas in 2019, according to the National Weather Service and to date there have been 18 in 2020.

In anticipation of severe weather, residents should prepare by identifying their safest place to shelter while keeping CDC guidelines in mind. If intending to shelter in a community shelter, residents should contact their local emergency management office to ensure the facility will be available during severe weather.

Community shelters should observe the following:

  • Maintain social distancing to the extent practical.
  • If available, surgical masks should be distributed to prevent the spread of droplets created by coughing or sneezing.
  • Ensure availability of hand sanitizer and hand soap to maximize proper hygiene.
  • If cots are required, ADEM recommends a safe distance of six feet between cots.
  • Essential monitoring of the shelter population is advised to identify safe room occupants that may exhibit COVID-19 symptoms such as a temperature of 100.4 or greater.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services, in conjunction with ADEM, will coordinate long-term sheltering if necessary, post-event. Guidance and recommendations from the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC will be followed.