Galveston residents fleeing the path of Hurricane Laura are being bused to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. From there, they’ll be placed in local hotels until it’s safe to go back to the Gulf Coast.
This is part of the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan, an emergency operation involving a roster of local governments including the City of Austin, Travis County, Hays County, Williamson County and area school districts.
In 2017, the plan was activated during Hurricane Harvey. Evacuees were housed in a large shelter at 7000 Metropolis Drive.
Because of the pandemic, officials are trying to avoid large concentrated gatherings of people indoors, so they’re putting them up in hotels instead.
The city has identified about 15 hotels in Travis County, and the list could grow. The state of Texas has requested the Austin-area be ready to shelter up to 3,000 evacuees, but the city has no estimates on how many will actually show up.
“We have direct relationships with Galveston City and County,” City of Austin spokesperson Bryce Bencivengo said. “Those individuals have been directed here, and then there may be other buses from other locations that may end up here.”
For example, Bencivengo said, evacuees from Brazoria County will be directed to hotels in Hays County. The hotels welcoming evacuees are “totally separate” from those being used as isolation facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bencivengo said.
Buses bringing evacuees will be limited to 15 to 20 people per bus, depending on the size of each family group, to allow for social distancing on the bus.
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