The City of Fort Worth has activated two shelters for evacuees from Southeast Texas who are fleeing Hurricane Laura.
Evacuees are being housed at two local hotels. As of noon Thursday, there were 473 total guests, including 234 who arrived by bus and 239 who self-evacuated.
The evacuees cannot be housed in a typical emergency shelter environment due to social distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Arriving guests were screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms, and testing is available onsite.
The shelter locations are being managed by the City of Fort Worth Park & Recreation and Neighborhood Services departments with assistance from the Fort Worth Emergency Operations Center, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters and other government organizations.
The City Council on Tuesday issued a 60-day disaster declaration, allowing state disaster funding.
“I really would ask for everybody to pray for the people that are hard hit,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price during a conversation with the mayor organized by Locavore Fort Worth on Thursday morning. “That’s very difficult. And, the first responders are there. Fort Worth has a team of firefighters and swift water rescue people on the ground. We’re a part of the state’s emergency response team. They left Wednesday morning. Some of them left Tuesday, some left Wednesday. There’s another group going today. They’ll be there with boats and all kinds of things to rescue, to do some damage control. And then, we signed our disaster declaration on Tuesday. That allows us to accept evacuees and it also gives us the ability to be reimbursed by the federal government for expenses.”
Price siad the city is using hotel rooms because people can’t shelter in place during COVID-19.
“We’ll have upwards between 400 and 500 people. Currently, we’ve probably got 200, 250 already here. They came in buses. Some have come in their own cars. There’s a processing center in McKinney and they’re fanning them out to available spots. We got three buses last night, have two more this morning,” she said.