FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – While Houston is in Hurricane Harvey rescue mode, cities across North Texas are in relief mode and preparing to take in families trying to escape the floodwaters.
This morning a mega shelter at the Dallas Convention Center opened. The need for space in Dallas had become critical with three different shelters there at capacity. The shelter, which has been set up in the parking garage level of the Convention Center, has 5,000 beds.
Mayor Rawlings said the shelter is ready and will stay open as long as necessary. “They [evacuees] can’t get out of town… all the major arteries going in and out are flooding. We want them to be safe,” he said. “They’re safe in that convention center. It will be better when they can get up here and there will be more space and we can help them.”
Before the lunch hour there had been only one family, from the Houston suburb of Pasadena, who sought shelter at the center. Emergency management officials expect people to slowly trickle in – mainly being people with transportation and who don’t have to rely on buses or planes.
During a press conference Tuesday morning Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings explained that the shelter is set up like a mini city with places to eat, a medical facility with doctors on hand, a pharmacy, power stations for electronics devices and library services for children.
Mayor Rawlings said the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) is also ready to teach any student wanting to attend school. “If folks have a child that they want to get educated, and not sit in a rec center, if they’re in grade school they go to Kennedy, if they’re middle school to Spence and high school goes to North Dallas High School. [Students] walk in the door, they register, put the kid down at a desk and start learning.”
In the overnight hours on Monday many people fleeing the flooding in Houston and South Texas arrived at Dallas Love Field Airport. Once on dry land here, many were taken to a temporary shelter in Irving and will soon be transferred to a newly opened shelter in Fort Worth.
On Tuesday morning a few storm victims made their way to the Wilkerson-Greines Athletic Center at 5201 Ca Roberson Boulevard, but the number of people arriving is expected to pick up throughout the day. Police and Red Cross volunteers will check people in, find out what they need and then let them get some rest.
The athletic center has been set up as a clearinghouse – meaning all evacuees arriving in Fort Worth will first go to the complex for processing and then be sent to other shelters in the area. The Wilkerson-Greines Center has 300 beds and there is space in Fort Worth to shelter another 750 people.
Fort Worth police spokesman Jimmy Pollozani said, “All these people coming here they lost everything. It is our job at the city of Fort Worth to provide some type of sense of comfort for these individuals coming to our city.”
Animal control will be on site at the Fort shelter since pets since pets are being allowed to stay with evacuees.
Those fleeing the wrath and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are arriving by any means possible. The group that landed at Love Field Monday night came in on military planes. Dozens of people streamed off the C-130 planes and were taken to a shelter in Irving at the Lively Point Youth Center. Once there, evacuees found food, water, medical help and grief counseling if needed.
Police told CBS 11 News that officers checking people in to the shelters will not be asking for documents or immigration status.