Dallas City Council Approves $8 Million in Emergency Funds to Help Pay For Evacuee Shelters, Relief Efforts

The Dallas City Council unanimously approved using $8 million in emergency funds Wednesday to help keep open shelters for Harvey evacuees and to pay for other relief efforts.

"Of course we have to do this," said Dallas City Councilwoman Sandy Greyson.

There are currently four shelters operating in Dallas — three smaller shelters run by the American Red Cross and one mega shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, about 860 people were staying in them. Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune told council members hundreds or even thousands more evacuees could come to the city.

"We're in constant contact with the state operations center, which is kind of the central command for all of the relief efforts in the state," Fortune said. "We have heard reports that air traffic and/or bus activity could occur as early as today. But we're not entirely sure yet. This changes frequently."

Because the situation remains fluid, council members felt it made sense to approve the additional money now, so the city isn't caught off guard later.

"The key is we can't be surprised," said Mayor Mike Rawlings. "I don't want us to be surprised if the number [of evacuees] is higher. And I don't want to be surprised if the numbers are very low."

Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Reich told the council the city is spending $100,000 a day just for the toilets, showers and hand-washing stations at all four shelters.

"All of our costs will be reimbursed by the Texas Division of Emergency Management," Reich said.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city of Dallas spent $6.5 million to house evacuees. City officials indicated the response to Harvey will likely cost more.

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