Dallas Prepares to Open Mega-Shelter for Harvey Evacuees

Dallas is preparing to open a mega-shelter at its downtown convention center as the city has been asked to get ready for what could be tens of thousands of evacuees from Harvey.

“We may have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of more individuals that will get bigger than this convention center,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in a Monday press conference inside the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.

Dallas authorities are aiming to open the shelter by Tuesday morning.

The city has also been asked to get ready for more people over the next few days and weeks, the mayor said.

“I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but we’ve been asked to prepare for numbers that could be up in the tens of thousands,” Rawlings said.

The Hutchinson 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 convention center.

Rawlings said they intend to create a “little city” to help evacuees with what they need. Walmart is setting up a pharmacy and a mini hospital will be there too. There will also be charging stations and possibly loaner phones for people who have lost their phones, he said.

“We’re getting ready to be the neighbors and friends of south Texans that we know we can be” Rawlings said. “Our job is to be ready when and if we need individuals to come to the Dallas area to reboot their lives and get back on their feet… My heart goes out to them.”

The city has three other shelters, that can hold 750 people total, besides the convention center. Dallas officials said the state of Texas will pay for the cost associated with accepting the evacuees.

Meanwhile, down in Houston, there is no indication the water will stop rising anytime soon. Swollen rivers in east Texas aren’t expected to crest until later this week, and federal officials are already predicting the deadly Tropical Storm Harvey will drive 30,000 people into shelters and spur 450,000 victims to seek some sort of disaster assistance. Forecasters say, more rain is coming.

On Monday, evacuees from the Galveston area began arriving in Dallas’ Love Field via state planes.

In Irving, Texas, chief of police Jeff Spivey said they expected about 200 evacuees from the Galveston area to stay at the city’s 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.”

Alicia Barron, 21, and her husband arrived at the Irving shelter after being rescued from their second floor apartment in Dickinson. She told reporters, “I’m just glad it’s over — glad we’re here.”

CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton, Mallory Simon, Alison Kosik and Julian Cummings contributed to this report.

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