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Dallas Preparing Convention Center To Take In Harvey Evacuees

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -  The City of Dallas opened Shelter #3 at Samuel Grand Recreation Center, 6200 E. Grand Ave. where it's holding another 400 evacuees, but city leaders have much bigger plans.

Shelter for Harvey evacuees in Dallas
Shelter for Harvey evacuees in Dallas (credit: Jack FInk - CBS11)

The city is going to house up to 5,000 Gulf Coast residents in a "mega shelter" in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Tuesday.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (Jack Fink - CBS11)

 The city is working with Dallas County, the Red Cross, and many other agencies to get the job done.

The city took in thousands of people after Hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Gustav, and Dallas County Director of Health & Human Services says they want evacuees to feel welcome.  "It's always a major under-taking but one thing about Dallas and Dallas County, is that we've had the experience of doing this before.  Having a partnership where a city take someone in and support them through a short time, that's the least we can do."

Thompson says one challenge with the close quarters is keeping people from getting sick. "We're doing assessments, we're putting signs up, we're talking about hand-washing, and so those are critical aspects in terms of prevention."

Until the mega-shelter opens Tuesday morning, the city has room for an additional 300 people.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings visited one of the city's shelters Sunday afternoon, shared Grace over pizza and bananas and met with evacuees.

He says they are, "Very appreciative.  Everybody.  When I introduced myself, people applauded and they said thank you, thank you, thank you."

Jeffery Bean, who along with his wife Rakeitha evacuated from Baytown near Houston and arrived in Dallas Friday evening says, "It's nice to have some open arms out here.  Neighbor helping neighbor is the best thing."

He says at first, they decided to stay put along with the rest of their extended families in Baytown and Beaumont, but then changed their minds.  "I got this little super-feeling, a tingling that came through my bones, and I said babe, this is fixing to be a weird one.  She looked at her arms and she got tinglies too."

Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said the City has received a formal request from the State and hopes to have the Convention Center ready to take in evacuees by Tuesday morning. The shelter will be in the center's parking garage level and will not affect events or shows currently booked.

"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," he said. 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.

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 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.

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