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Hurricane Laura evacuees turned away as Austin intake facility runs out of room

COTA's intake facility is now being used as a rest area for evacuees.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some Texas coast evacuees who traveled to Austin for shelter ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall were turned away from the Circuit of the Americas check-in site because it "is at capacity." 

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, the City of Austin and COTA reopened the intake facility as a rest area for evacuees. Those seeking shelter are welcomed to wait at COTA until more hotel rooms become available on a first-come-first-served basis.

As of Thursday morning, the Capital Area Shelter Hub has housed approximately 3,000 evacuees in more than 1,000 hotel rooms and in space at the Austin Convention Center. 

The intake facility said it ran out of hotel vouchers early Wednesday morning, one day after city leaders announced on Tuesday that Austin would be one of the places that had a shelter for Hurricane Laura evacuees. The intake facility opened at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and was prepared to take in up to 3,000 people.


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Officials said the City had to start turning people away around midnight. They were able to reopen again and had been open for some of Wednesday morning, however, gates began closing again around 5 a.m. as the shelter ran out of space.

An official told KVUE they are encouraging evacuees to call 211 for the most up-to-date sheltering information. They are working to find more rooms in the Austin area. Evacuees can also text “ATXShelter” to 888-777 to get updates about sheltering in the Austin area. 

KVUE asked what the next step is for people looking for shelter, and officials said there are other areas evacuees can go to such as Mesquite, San Antonio and Dallas. They also suggested evacuees find their own motel or hotel.

RELATED: Laura expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane today

Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. The major hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane around 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Download the KVUE app to get the latest updates straight to your phone.

WATCH: Hurricane Laura: Erika Lopez provides an update on the storm’s path


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