Why Austin isn’t opening shelters for Hurricane Ida evacuees

Austin

Flooded streets are shown in the Spring Meadow subdivision in LaPlace, La., after Hurricane Ida moved through Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Hard-hit LaPlace is squeezed between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hurricane Ida evacuees from Louisiana might have trouble finding a place to stay in Austin that isn’t a hotel or motel.

According to the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), the area isn’t planning on opening a traditional shelter for Ida evacuees.

Last year, you may remember part of the Austin Convention Center was transformed into a shelter for Hurricane Laura evacuees. The center had about 135 shelter spaces then.

However, HSEM says the Laura evacuees housed at the convention center last year were mostly from Galveston. The office says it has an agreement with Galveston County to create shelters when the county calls for an evacuation.

That agreement was renewed by Austin City Council just last week.

However, for Hurricane Ida, HSEM didn’t receive any requests from the state of Texas or Louisiana to open shelters, which is the reason why shelters aren’t present right now in Austin.

Finding shelter through the Red Cross

HSEM did share ways Ida evacuees can find shelter through the Red Cross.

Anyone in an affected area who needs a safe place to stay can call 211, visit the Red Cross website, call 1(800) 733-2767 or download the Red Cross Emergency app to browse shelter locations.

HSEM says you can also text LASHELTER to 898-211 or NOLAREADY to 77295. Local officials and news outlets will also have more information on where to find shelter.

People planning to stay in a Red Cross shelter are encouraged to bring any medications they need, extra clothes, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items or important documents, if they can. Also keep in mind special supplies for young children, like diapers, formula or toys.

Shelters set up by the Red Cross are free, and you don’t need identification to enter. You will just need to provide your name and where you were living before the hurricane hit, according to HSEM.

Pets are not allowed into Red Cross shelters.

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