AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of Texans are leaving flood-ravaged areas along the Gulf Coast and packing emergency shelters across the State, including several in San Antonio and Austin.
State officials have asked the City of Austin to take in as many as 7,000 Harvey evacuees.
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The city is setting up a “mega shelter" at the Austin Convention Center.
Right now, in emergency shelters across Austin, there are more than 500 evacuees, a number that constantly fluctuates and could rise drastically in the days to come. A mega shelter set to open this week here at the Austin Convention Center could house 2,500 guests.
In an Emergency City Council Meeting Tuesday, city leaders reaffirmed their commitment to helping anyone displaced, understanding that Austin dodged the fully fury of the hurricane.
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The city knows it can house 5,000 people, and they're working to identify places to meet the State's need for 7,000. During the meeting, Mayor Steve Adler emphasized that evacuees won't be asked about their immigration status. There will be a registration table and check-in where you can work on replacing lost IDs and find out whether you qualify for FEMA assistance.
Emergency shelters in Austin including the Delco Center are filling up. Austin Independent School District schools have stepped up offering their athletic facilities as short-term solutions.
The massive shelter operation in Downtown Austin is being prepared for the long haul.
"Because we recognize the fact that these folks are not going to return back home, we need to start getting this mega shelter to capacity. The city within the city established and up and running and once that happens then we will look at consolidating those folks and start moving them back,” said Juan Ortiz, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, the city's fire department says 1,300 people fleeing Harvey have come in and they're ready to take in 10,000 more. People are also coming into the area, but not because they're in need, they want to offer help.
Several nonprofits in Central Texas are taking donations.