Williamson County is helping to shelter approximately 633 Hurricane Laura evacuees in seven hotels, said Connie Odom, Williamson County public affairs manager.
The county is part of the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan—a regional sheltering plan with the City of Austin and the counties of Travis, Williamson and Hays—to provide assistance for those who have been displaced by the hurricane.
Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas as a Category 4 storm early Aug. 27, sending many residents in its path to Central Texas.
To date, the CASHP has housed approximately 3,000 evacuees at 21 hotels and the Austin Convention Center throughout the city of Austin and the three counties. They are split as follows.
- Bell County: 35 hotel rooms utilized
- Hays County: 65 hotel rooms utilized
- Travis County: 795 hotel rooms utilized and the Austin Convention Center
- Williamson County: 197 hotel rooms utilized
The Williamson County hotels are located in Georgetown, Round Rock, Hutto and Taylor, Odom said.
"Our county employees worked the COTA Reception Center and are acting as shelter managers, coordinating food for evacuees and assisting our guests from the coast with other questions or needs that they had," Odom said. "Since Galveston reopened today, many have headed back home. Those whose areas are without power or have damage are staying tonight and returning [Sept. 28]."
Williamson County departments that aided in the effort include the office of emergency management, the county regional animal shelter, emergency management services, the county auditor, fire marshal special operations, human resources, technology services, parks and recreation, tax assessor-collector, public affairs, and purchasing, Odom said. Departments from the involved cities assisted as well.
The State of Texas will reimburse the county for all the expenses incurred, Odom said.
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said he was proud at the way Williamson County, along with area counties, were able to pull together and provide a place for displaced families to stay. Gravell said he believed it was important for Williamson County to step up and offer aid as it is "part of the Texas family."
"There have been times in the past where other counties have come to our aid," he said. "It's the Wilco Way; we come together to help out."