The city of Dallas says state officials have asked them to prepare The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as a mega shelter to house Hurricane Harvey evacuees seeking safety from the deluge of rain and rising floodwaters along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The city said they plan to have the facility ready to accommodate 5,000 people by Tuesday morning.
“We have been advised by the state to be prepared for up to 5,000 evacuees, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to accommodate our fellow Texans who may need assistance,” said Rocky Vaz, director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management. Many City departments, Red Cross, Dallas County, Parkland Hospital, the Salvation Army, Children’s Hospital and numerous volunteer agencies and organizations are now working out the logistics to have the shelter up and running and ready to take in guests Tuesday morning, Aug. 29.
Earlier Sunday, the city opened a third shelter for evacuees at the Samuell Grand Recreation Center after shelters at the Tommie Allen (123 people) and Walnut Hill (290 people) recreation centers reached capacity. The third shelter, like the previous shelters, is run by the American Red Cross.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins previously voiced concern that there were not enough shelters for storm victims.
"We have approximately 740,000 people who live in this hurricane watch area of 30 counties, we have a maximum capacity, if we open all shelters — both private and public — in Texas of about 41,000 shelter spaces. So that's right at 700,000 people who we don't have shelter space for," Jenkins said. "So what I'm asking is that if your cousin who is a pain in the neck to you asks to sleep on your couch for a few days, let the cousin sleep on the couch."
Jenkins also voiced concern for evacuees coming up Interstate 45 from Houston who might not have enough money to fill up their tank running out of gas while on sitting in traffic turning the highway into a parking lot.
"Fill up that tank completely," he said. "It may take a lot more gas to make this trip, you may have a seven hour journey because of traffic."
Jenkins said most evacuees from Houston will come to Dallas, while Corpus Christi evacuees will go to San Antonio.
Texas Department of Transportation signs along the highway in Ellis County will instruct evacuees to call 211 to find out which Dallas shelters that are open.
For people interested in donating, Dallas County VOAD member Trusted World will accept new underwear, new socks, new warmups for men, women, children and infants, toiletries/hygiene products, baby formula and baby wipes, bottles, diapers and the Graco Pac n’ Plays for babies to sleep in.
Drop off is at 15660 N. Dallas Parkway, just north of Arapaho on the north side of the Parkway. Follow the signs to drop off donations. The donations center will open daily from 3 to 8 p.m. daily.