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Severe storms possible across parts of Alabama, Alabama Food Deserts


Forecasters say parts of Alabama could see severe weather including possible tornadoes tonight and tomorrow. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the details.

The National Weather Service is warning Alabama residents of possible severe weather moving into the area this evening through tomorrow morning.

From 2 AM to 11 AM tomorrow, parts of central and southern Alabama are expected to see storms that could produce damaging winds of up to 60 miles per hour and, possibly, brief tornadoes. The affected area includes the cities of Selma, Montgomery and Demopolis.

On the gulf coast, forecasters are warning residents of strong isolated thunderstorms this evening through tomorrow morning. Those storms may produce strong or potentially damaging wind gusts as well. 

Alabama public health officials say the state's infant mortality rate remained several points higher than the national mark in 2014.

State Department of Public Health officials say Alabama's infant mortality rate for 2014 was 8.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Officials say the national rate in 2014 was 5.8, and 517 Alabama infants died before turning a year old in 2014.

Public health officials say the mortality rate for black infants was 13.9 per 1,000 compared with 6 per 1,000 for white infants. Officials say the persistent disparity exists in Alabama and across the country.

Public health officials say 8.5 percent of births were to teenage mothers and 9.7 teen mothers reported smoking during pregnancy. Officials say both figures are historic lows for Alabama.

Close to two million Alabamians currently live in areas with no grocery stores or access to fresh produce. That’s something the state government hopes to change.

This year, the Alabama state legislature passed the Healthy Food Financing Act, aimed at providing incentives for grocers to open stores in underserved areas of the state. But the legislation doesn't currently include any funding for the program.

Ellie Taylor is the president of the Alabama Grocers Association. She says it was important to get the framework in place first, and then find funding.

 “Really our goal the first year was just to pass the act and have the vehicle for the funding, so then we could go after public and private funding. Retailers will have to submit applications to be able to get that funding, and it’s not just grocery retailers. It could be farmer’s markets, or any kind of food retail entity.”

The grants will be managed through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

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