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Harvey evacuees keep coming, but can Houston convention center accommodate them?

More than 9,000 flock to shelter, but there's only 5,000 cots

HOUSTON – More than 9,000 people have come to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston seeking shelter in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, causing concern that it may not be able to accommodate the growing number of those rescued from the catastrophic flooding caused by the storm.

Men, women and children arrived on buses and trucks Tuesday morning, relieved to have a dry place to temporarily call home since rising water flooded their communities.

"I'm just happy to be alive," Jennifer Salazar told Local 10 News.

Salazar, her husband and their three children were stranded for 48 hours after their home flooded until they were rescued Tuesday morning by a truck.

Jennifer Salazar and her family arrive at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. They were stranded for 48 hours after their home was flooded by Hurricane Harvey.
Jennifer Salazar and her family arrive at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. They were stranded for 48 hours after their home was flooded by Hurricane Harvey.

They're just a few of the 9,000-plus living at the large shelter. But with only 5,000 cots available, there is a concern that it may run out of space.

"Is there ever going to be a point where you're at full capacity and start turning people away?" Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden asked.

"We are working right now with, like you said, the city, state and federal officials to make sure that we have official capacity for people who need it," Tom McCasland, Houston's director of housing and community development, said.

Many of the flood victims are forced to improvise, resting on the floor wherever they can find space.

As first responders and good Samaritans continue to rescue the stranded, the line outside the convention center gets longer and longer.

Rolanda Green, who lost her home in the flood, said she isn't sure what she's going to do next.

"We don't have insurance," Green said. "My husband had just gotten laid off his job the week before."

Evacuees who arrive at the shelter are evaluated by doctors and nurses and given dry clothes.

"People just want to feel comfortable," American Red Cross volunteer Lauren Netherton said. "I think they had a really hard weekend, and people are just looking for comfort, warmth and just trying to find a little spot to just take a breather."