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Harvey shelter in Southeast Austin to close soon

Most evacuees have returned home, while rest will continue to receive help from city

Big room with lots of cots
Hurricane Harve mega-shelter at Austin’s Met Center
Paul Leo Klink via Facebook/Met Center

Austin’s “mega-shelter” for evacuees of areas hit by hurricane/tropical storm will be closing soon, as the number of people needing shelter dwindles, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

The shelter, located at the MetCenter industrial park in Southeast Austin, was set up to consolidate services for evacuees living at various schools and other designated locations in the city. According to the Statesman, officials are looking to close it by the end of the weekend.

The paper reported that county executive Josh Davies told the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday that there are currently 175 evacuees in the shelter, which housed and provided services to 400 evacuees when it opened. He added that the focus will now be on finding the remaining evacuees places in smaller shelters or helping them resettle in Austin.

The city and county will continue to provide support that had been handled by the shelter’s multi-agency resource center, which closed Tuesday, according to the story.

A box of white and black puppies and mom
Hurricane Harvey puppies born at Austin’s Met Center mega-shelter
Paul Leo Klink, Met Center/Facebook

Tuesday’s Statesman story also referred to a Sept. 9 story in which the paper reported that an Uber affiliate owned part of the shelter space the city was renting and that the transportation network company offered to waive rent for up to three months on the space. Whether or not that deal was finalized is not made clear in the Tuesday story.

The Sept. 9 story did report that the city would seek reimbursement from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a 96,000-square-foot space next door to the shelter, currently rented for storage. The same story also related a statement from Uber that it In the past 10 days, the company says, it has donated $300,000 worth of rides to and from the shelter in the first 10 days it was open.

The location of the shelter brought to light some marketing language on MetCenter’s website that some considered a bit tone-deaf. The site advertises the center as being in “The Cool Zone” of Austin and contains a map graphic that seemed loosely inspired by Albert Bui’s “Judgmental Map of Austin Neighborhoods” that circulated in Austin (as did similar maps in other cities) several years ago.

Tweets such as the one below took up the issue as a larger criticism of the MetCenter and city planning, even CodeNEXT, although the social-media conversation was short-lived.

Officials: Austin’s mega-shelter for Harvey evacuees to close soon [AAS]

Uber donating space to Austin for Hurricane Harvey evacuee shelter [AAS]