Alexandria mega shelter prepared to hold 2,000 evacuees
As Tropical Storm Barry rolls into south Louisiana, the mega shelter in Alexandria is prepping its facilities for potential evacuees.
The facility is able to temporarily house thousands of people who meet certain criteria.
"What we set up so far is 2,000 cots,” said DCFS Lead Area Manager Daniel Doyle. “These cots are designed for residents that are transported here by the State of Louisiana, and which they have critical transportation needs or evacuees that have been rescued through search and rescue operations."
The decision to use this center for those who come from search and rescue operations was influenced by the use of the mega shelter during past natural disaster situations like hurricane Harvey.
But, the Department of Child and Family Services wants people to remember to utilize their local shelters.
"The Alexandria mega shelter is not designed as a general population shelter,” Doyle said. “So, if you do have someone that is looking for a shelter, they'll need to shelter within their parish. They can contact their Office of Emergency Preparedness director in their parish or call 211 to get a list of the shelters that are actually open."
But for those housed at the shelter, special units are in place to make the facility as accommodating as possible.
"This particular part of the shelter is for people who have medical needs,” explained Dr. David Holcomb, Regional Medical Director for the Office of Public Health.
“It's called a medical special needs shelter. So the folks that come in here have problems. They may have diabetes, severe diabetes. They may be on dialysis. They may have tube feeding, wound care - people that would normally be seen by home health."
Even animals are taken care of at the livestock barn next door. Special pins and cages for each animal are available to those who have pets.
Authorities do want to remind you that anyone who leaves behind or intentionally abandons pets will be prosecuted.