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Austin Could Shelter As Many As 7,000 Texans Displaced By Harvey

Ashley Lopez
Hundreds of evacuees fleeing Tropical Storm Harvey have come to Austin shelters. As rain continues in Southeast Texas, Austin could see as many as 7,000 evacuees taking shelter in Austin.

Austin officials have been asked to shelter as many as 7,000 people displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey. This comes as more people are able to leave flooded areas on the Gulf Coast, and the city is working to find these people a safe place to stay here in Austin.

Kayla Aguilar from Port Lavaca is staying at one of the city’s shelters at the Delco Center. She and her family member have been in Austin since Thursday night.

Aguilar says there were some family members that stayed behind, but she says, when she heard Hurricane Harvey was coming, there was no way she was staying.

“I was so scared because I didn’t want to stay and I felt bad for leaving, too, you know,” she said. “I was just really nervous.”

Aguilar is anxious to get back home, but she says it looks like it could be a while. Power and water are still out in her neighborhood, and she says there’s no point returning yet.

By Monday afternoon city officials say about 550 people – mostly from the Gulf Coast – were taking refuge in shelters here in Austin at the Delco Center. 

Now, state officials are telling the city they need to prepare for more.

“Everybody should know that company is coming,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said during a press conference Monday afternoon. “We and other of the major cities around the state have received a request from the state to shelter thousands of our fellow Texans.”

Adler says the city is working to find a way to accommodate people and make them comfortable here at the Delco Center shelter, as well as shelters at the Toney Burger Activity Center and Lanier High School on  Payton Gin Road.

Juan Ortiz, director of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says the city is drawing upon lessons learned from storms in the past like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

“Fortunately, and unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “So, it’s been nine years. So what the availability was nine or 10 years ago is not the same in 2017. So we need to look at where we can best manage something like this and ensure that we can do the best job that we can to take care of our guests.”

Ortiz says his department is also working to provide shelter and services to people here in Central Texas affected by flooding.

Austin officials are working closely with the state to make sure they can help as many people across the state who need it, and, as rain continues to fall in Texas, that number could continue to grow. 

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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