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Austin, Travis County prepare Convention Center for Hurricane Laura evacuees
(The Weather Channel)

Just over a month after it was prepared to open as a field hospital to care for overflow COVID patients, the Austin Convention Center is now being prepared as a shelter for Hurricane Laura evacuees, who continue to stream into the area.


Typically the city and county rely on large shelters during an emergency, but officials have refrained from opening such facilities due to the pandemic.

Instead, the city has accepted evacuees at Circuit of the Americas and directed them to area hotels, but there has been more demand than anticipated, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall around Cameron, Louisiana—near the Texas, Louisiana border—Thursday morning. It is currently traveling westward with winds up to 150 mph.

The city and county have already provided more than a thousand hotel rooms for over 3,000 guests. In comparison, they sheltered around 850 evacuees during Hurricane Harvey, said Juan Ortiz, Austin's director of homeland security and emergency management.

As a result, officials are now encouraging evacuees to continue heading north to the Dallas area, where hotels likely have more capacity.

For those who do not have the resources for a hotel room, the city and county are preparing the convention center. But the process is made more complicated by doing so "in the shadow of COVID," said Eric Carter, chief emergency management coordinator for Travis County.

Officials are relying on pandemic recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to guide capacity limits at the convention center, which will be around 135, and screening protocols.

In addition to the stand-up shelter, officials are also working to establish a medical shelter for any patients in need of care.

"It's going to be all hands on deck for this response," Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden said.

It is likely that the pandemic will continue to affect emergency planning.

"We're not at the peak of the [hurricane] season yet," Ortiz said.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway