Hurricane Laura evacuees being turned away at COTA as hotels are full


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Evacuees from Texas Gulf Coast communities are being turned away Wednesday morning at the intake center at Circuit of the Americas.

KXAN’s Candy Rodriguez was at COTA, and she said officials told “a handful” of evacuees who drove to COTA on their own that there isn’t anymore room for evacuees.

All 15 of the hotels Austin is using to house evacuees are full, and people are being told to drive to Mesquite, Texas — just east of Dallas-Fort Worth — to seek lodging.

The Austin Police Department has shut down COTA for future evacuee processing, officials say.

Bryce Bencivengo with the City of Austin said that everyone who arrived on a bus has been taken in and has shelter. He also said buses that are lined up at COTA are empty.

Under the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan, the city said the three-county area of Travis, Hays and Williamson counties had room for 3,000 people.

Ty Benjamin, who evacuated Port Arthur, arrived at COTA around 1 a.m. and was processed at COTA and was given an address to a Motel 6 in San Marcos to go to. Benjamin said when they arrived at the hotel, they were told they didn’t have a room.

“We got to the hotel, and the man there has an attitude, he said they aren’t registering and to get off his property,” Benjamin said. “We don’t know where to go. We’re not from here.”

Benjamin said she lost her property in Hurricane Harvey, and that’s why she said she rushed to Austin to seek refuge.

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