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Hurricane Harvey: What Austinites need to know

Updates, cancellations, road closures, how to help, and where to get help

Hurricane Harvey Slams Into Texas Gulf Coast Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Note: This story has been updated since it was originally published. Coverage has been shifted to ways to help those affected by the storm.

Harvey is turning out to be a storm like no other we’ve experienced in Texas. After the initial destruction it wreaked in Rockport and Corpus Christi, it lost a significant amount of power, dropping from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm.

As most of the country now knows, the storm has now dropped torrential rains over Houston for several days, creating the catastrophe the National Weather Service and other weather news outlets predicted.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the storm has moved back over land, making its way northwest from its landing near the Texas-Louisiana border. Federal officials predict the deadly storm will drive 30,000 people into shelters and spur 450,000 people to seek some sort of disaster assistance.

Getting help and giving help in Central Texas

KXAN reported Tuesday that the state has asked Austin to house 7,000 Gulf Coast evacuees (the city hosted 4,000 evacuees after Hurricane Katrina in 2005).

According to Adler’s report, Austin is currently housing 546 evacuees in four area shelters. The Wilhelmina Delco Center, LBJ/LASA High School, Tony Burger Center, and the University of Texas’ J.J. Pickle Research Campus. (The Pickle campus is housing people with serious medical conditions, and the Delco Center is the only shelter available on a walk-in basis, according to a Monday Austin American-Statesman story.)

However, most of the evacuees will be moved over the next few days to the Austin Convention Center, where more people seeking shelter are expected, in order to centralize and streamline assistance. The facility can hold 2,500 people.

Pets are allowed in Austin shelters—arrangements will be made to house them onsite or at a nearby location.

During an emergency City Council meeting Monday, reports KXAN, the city put out the word that it is looking for space another 4,000 guests. Area schools and the Travis County Expo Center are being considered. The Expo Center fairgrounds are being staged for rescued livestock and large animals.

Here are city numbers to call for immediate needs:

911: emergencies

311: city-related non-emergencies

211: food and clothing emergencies

Keep up with city disaster assistance and recovery efforts at AustinTexas.gov/help

Ways Austinites can help

This is an incomplete and ever-growing list of ways to help evacuees from the Gulf Coast. Since organizations’ needs change as events unfold, be sure to check with them or their websites before making in-kind donations or volunteering.

The Red Cross doesn’t currently need volunteers due to overwhelming support in its Central and South Texas Region. The agency is currently accepting monetary donations only (as opposed to in-kind donations, such as clothing or toiletries).

GivePulse.com lists volunteer opportunities with many of Central Texas agencies. The Austin Disaster Relief Network is also requesting volunteers as well as raising funds and asking for in-kind donations.

Austin Pets Alive, the Austin Animal Center, and Texas SPCA are accepting pets from affected areas. They can use monetary and in-kind donations (litter boxes, cat litter, towels, blankets, large wire crates, pet beds, newspapers, and gas gift cards). Austin Pets Alive is also looking for people to apply to foster or adopt pets.

The Central Texas Food Bank is accepting monetary and in-kind donations.

Austin Diaper Bank is accepting donations of diapers as well as monetary donations.

We Are Blood encourages potential donors to make an appointment via their website or phone number (512-206-1266) to donate.

Other organizations coordinating relief efforts and requesting monetary donations include:

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for the city’s rebuilding efforts after the storm

United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund

The Salvation Army will send disaster recovery teams to all areas affected by the hurricane/storm

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund will help teachers restock their classrooms with materials such as books, furniture, and supplies.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital in the Corpus Christi Area

The mayor’s website a more exhaustive list of places to make donations, volunteer, and other ways to help, including in the areas affected by the storm. The State of Texas is asking that volunteers work through an agency rather than freestyling their efforts by just turning up in disaster areas.

Our sister site, Eater Austin, also has a list of restaurants that are donating to the relief efforts.

The storm in Central Texas

Austin escaped the brunt of the storm, with most damage coming in the form of downed trees and other foliage and power outages. A Wednesday statement issued by Austin Mayor Steve Adler succinctly reports that the local weather outlook is good, Onion Creek flooding did not threaten any homes, and that Austin Energy is confident all power will be restored to affected areas Tuesday, and that Capital Metro as well as police patrols are back on their regular schedules.

Weather updates

For alerts about any future weather issues, you can sign up at WarnCentralTexas.org.

While the Austin area looks essentially clear, it’s still a good idea to look out for low-water crossings or more significant flooding in the surrounding areas and take the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” slogan seriously.

There are two excellent websites where you can check on road conditions before you head out:

ATXFloods has an excellent interactive map of road and low-water crossing closures.

Drive Texas also has an interactive, real-time map of road closures throughout the state.

Here are more flood safety tips from the Department of Public Safety.

We’ll keep updating this list as events develop. Let us know what we missed in the Comments section below or on the tipline.

Austin Convention Center will become a mega shelter for Harvey evacuees [KXAN]

Austin sets out welcome mat as more Harvey evacuees are expected [AAS]

'Get out now!' Levee breaches south of Houston as flooding intensifies [CNN]

As Austin braces for flooding, it opens doors for Harvey evacuees [AAS]

Flash floods, tornadoes rampant as Harvey stalls over Houston [The Houston Chronicle]

Flood Safety Awareness [Texas Department of Public Safety]

Austin Restaurants Closed Today for Hurricane Harvey [Eater Austin]

American Red Cross urgently needs Central Texas volunteers [AAS]