AUSTIN, Texas —
The City of Austin's Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Department is offering emergency shelter for those who still don't have power following the mass power outages across the city.
Those that are in need of a place to stay and can't afford a hotel room are encouraged to call 311 to be put on the list for the shelter. Operators with 311 will ask residents a few questions regarding the shelters and will give a call-back with instructions after they've been placed in the system.
The current shelter is set up for around 300 people, but the facility has the capacity for up to 1,000. As crews work to restore power, residents have the option to either stay at the shelters for the night or for a warm place to shower.
Juan Ortiz, director of management services for HSEM, explained that it's important to do what the department can until residents have their electricity back.
"We specialize in crisis management, the consequence management sides of the event. So, we look at what are impacts that an event is having on the community. And we try to identify solutions or ways that we can support our community in the best way possible," Ortiz said. "So while I cannot restore power to people's homes quickly, I'm looking at what can I do to lessen the impact of the event."
As of Monday morning, at least 60 people had called and asked for more information about the shelters, in addition to 20 animals in need of shelter.
"Some members of our community are still without power. And we feel that some of our own workers that are working are still without power," Ortiz said. "And so, we recognize the need that we need to do those extra things to make sure that we we're helping the community recover in the best way that we possibly can."
According to Ortiz, when residents call 311, they should let the operator know that they need the emergency shelter. This will help elevate their call to a case manager, and they shouldn't have to wait very long to receive help.
Operators are taking calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and trying to call everyone back on the same day.
These shelters are different from the overnight cold weather shelters offered for those experiencing homelessness and separate from the day warming centers the City has available.