City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State, Red Cross assisting with shelter for evacuees
Austin, Texas – To make sure Hurricane Laura evacuees have shelter as they wait out the storm, the City of Austin and Travis County are working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management and Red Cross to establish a shelter at the Austin Convention Center.
As part of the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan, Halls 1 and 2 at the Austin Convention Center will be turned into a traditional shelter space. Emergency officials hope to have the shelter ready to accept guests in the next six hours. This shelter will not affect the staging or availability of the Austin Convention Center as an Alternate Care Site (ACS). Located in Hall 4, the ACS remains on standby as a hospital overflow facility.
The shelter will also be following Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to maintain proper health protocols in a COVID-19 environment.
“We are going to ensure that if individuals need a face covering, we're going to provide that for them in order for them to maintain the utmost health and safety in this setting,” said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. “Health and safety are of utmost importance.”
In the past 36 hours, Austin-Travis County’s emergency response has been able to assist approximately 3,000 evacuees from the Gulf Coast. Those individuals are currently housed in 1,079 hotel rooms as of Wednesday morning.
“We have been able to support the evacuation of all of the buses that came from the City of Galveston and we’ve also been able to provide shelter space for a majority of the people that came to Austin by themselves,” said Juan Ortiz, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Austin.
The Circuit of the Americas reception site is remains open as a rest and intake area, however, evacuees are not guaranteed a room if they come there.
While it has been a challenge to secure hotel rooms for the influx of evacuees, Central Texas stands ready to help.
“We’ve been working in partnership to get our community ready to help Hurricane Laura evacuees,” Eric Carter, Chief Emergency Management Coordinator for Travis County, said. “It’s important to recognize the other counties. Our goal is to be safe and make sure evacuees stay safe.”
The traditional shelter setting will provide a place for evacuees to sleep, get food and other basic amenities.
The City of Austin and Travis County have both issued disaster declarations for Hurricane Laura.
Evacuees can receive important updates and information by text message while they are in the Austin area. Text the word “ATXShelter” to 888-777 to be signed up for updates or call 512-978-1510 for the same updates that would be received via text message.