Coronavirus pandemic adds to disaster of Southeast tornado destruction
(CNN)The havoc and heartache caused by a line of storms that spanned 1,200 miles from Texas to the Carolinas was made even worse by the coronavirus pandemic. The storms left at least 31 dead and destroyed hundreds of buildings in Monroe, Louisiana, alone. There, Mayor Jamie Mayo asked hotels to provide rooms for those made homeless by the storms, since the virus outbreak has made opening an emergency shelter potentially dangerous.Hotlines have been established to find housing for those who don’t have a safe place to stay.In Chattanooga, about 50 residents at the assisted living home had to be evacuated by bus to a nearby hotel after the facility’s roof was heavily damaged in the storm, Amy Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management, told CNN. First responders, in some areas already taxed by the pandemic, were inundated with calls. The Hamilton 911 center had more than 1,300 calls, with 500 calls related to collapsed structures, Maxwell said. The pandemic has thinned the ranks of volunteers at the Salvation Army, said Jeff Jellets, the organization’s Southern Territory Disaster Coordinator, since many of its volunteers are retired, and being older, are more at risk to the virus.