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(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.

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Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.

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