DALLAS (CBS11) – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said tens of thousands of Hurricane Harvey evacuees could come to North Texas once flooded roads in Southeast Texas clear.
“We may have thousands upon thousands, upon thousands of more individuals. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but we’ve been asked to prepare for folks, numbers that could be up in the tens of thousands,” he said.
The Mayor made his comments one day before the city is set to open a mega-shelter for 5,000 evacuees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.
Because of all the potential people traveling to North Texas, Mayor Rawlings spent Monday afternoon working the phones, and calling officials in as many as 20 cities across the region to ask them to check their available space and supplies just in case they’re needed.
Even before the Dallas convention center in Dallas will welcome evacuees, there are already 547 storm victims who are staying in the city’s three shelters, and there’s still space for nearly 200 more people.
The shows and events in other parts of the convention center are not being impacted.
The City of Fort Worth announced Monday afternoon that it’s prepared to open five shelters to accommodate 350 evacuees once and if the state makes such a request.
Dallas is set to open the mega-shelter Tuesday morning.
Crews and volunteers spent all day Monday preparing the convention center’s garage level.
Aside from the sea of cots, the Director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, Rocky Vaz, said crews are setting up an area where doctors from throughout North Texas can provide medical care.
Vaz described it as, “Almost a mini-hospital.”
The city is also setting up a separate area to provide evacuees with meals.
It is also setting up the cots differently than was first done when the city welcomed Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
The city said they are lessons learned.
Mayor Rawlings sayid crews are setting up a little city inside the convention center, and that the private sector will help. “”Walmart is setting up a place for pharmacies.”
Vaz said, “AT&T, Verizon, all those companies are on board, are going to have charging stations. They might even have loaner phones.”
Sharon Beechum of Dallas is among many volunteers and crews setting up cots. “It’s a lot of hard work and we put together a lot of cots.”
For Sharon Beehcum, volunteering is personal. “This could be Dallas and if I were in the same shoes, I would want someone to help me. It’s wonderful to see people come together.”