Dallas prepared for thousands displaced by Harvey, mayor says
Convention center in the city can accomodate 5,000 people
Dallas opened a mega-shelter at its downtown convention center Tuesday, as the city gears up to help thousands left homeless by Tropical Storm Harvey.
Catastrophic flooding has left large swathes of Houston – the country’s fourth largest city – underwater. Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center is packed beyond capacity. It sheltered more than 9,000 evacuees Monday night.
“This is going to be the start of what I believe is going to be a long process,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a news conference outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Tuesday.
“Lives have been devastated in Houston. They’re fellow Texans, and we’re going to help them out,” said Rawlings.
Rawlings said the intention was to create a “little city” with a little bit of everything to help evacuees with what they need. There will be a medical facility with doctors, Walmart is setting up a pharmacy, and there will be places to power electrical devices, he said. He recommended a website, dallashelpforharvey.net, for those looking to donate or volunteer.
The mayor said evacuees are expected to come in after the main roads in Houston become passable. About 250 buses are on standby to bring in people, he said. “We just want to tell everybody that we are ready for them,” Rawlings said.
In addition, the Dallas Independent School District is opening up three of its schools to students displaced by the flooding.
“It’s real simple,” Rawlings said. “If folks have a child they want to get educated and not sit in a (recreation) center … they walk in the door, they register, put the kid down on a desk and they start learning!”
The Hutchison Convention Center can hold up to 5,000 people. On Monday, workers and volunteers assembled green cots and placed blankets on Level 1 of the center.
The city has three other shelters, that can hold 750 people. Dallas officials said the state of Texas will pay the cost associated with accepting the evacuees.
Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey earlier said that Texas city expected about 200 evacuees from the Galveston area to stay at its Lively Pointe Recreational Center, which will be a temporary shelter as Dallas ramps up.
The goal is to “try to replace some of those comforts of home that they’ve lost,” Spivey told CNN. He said the hope is to try to give them a decent meal, place to sleep, provide them with “some safety, some security and bring back some kind of normalcy back to their lives.”
The Dallas area is prepared to accommodate about 6,000 evacuees, Mayor Rawlings said. “The great news is Dallas is a big city with a lot of facilities and a lot of people who want to help so we can flex up I think pretty easily, ” the mayor said.
CNN’s Madison Park and Mallory Simon contributed to this report.