San Antonio preps Freeman Coliseum as 'reception center' for Hurricane Hanna evacuees

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The east-side stadium is now an information hub for evacuees in need of available hotel rooms.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas is now faced with another threat as the coronavirus pandemic surges across the state: Hurricane Hanna. 

Gov. Greg Abbott stressed the importance of treating both situations seriously during a press conference Saturday afternoon. 

“The most important thing I could say today is to issue a reminder to everybody in the State of Texas,” Abbott said. “Just because a hurricane comes to the state does not mean that COVID-19 disappears.”

Corpus Christi remains one of several coronavirus hotspots in Texas, with more than 8,000 new cases reported on Saturday.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management is coordinating with city governments to set up emergency shelters and provide resources for hurricane-evacuees.

The City of San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum, which is currently outfitted to accommodate overflow patients from area hospitals, is serving as a so-called reception center for evacuees.

“We spoke with the vice president of the American Red Cross last night. They’re providing hotel vouchers. If they run out of vouchers, we will contract for hotel rooms, but the idea is you can check in at the Freeman Coliseum and then go into your hotel—not go to a shelter unless you have a medical need,” said W. Nim Kidd, director of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

The City of San Antonio clarified on Twitter that Freeman Coliseum is not being used as an emergency shelter at this time. A city spokesperson, meanwhile, said it’s unknown how many evacuees are expected to arrive.  

Abbott noted there are 17 coronavirus mobile testing teams and 100 medical professionals ready to assist with the intake of evacuees at various shelters. 

“We cannot allow this hurricane to lead to a more catastrophically, deadly event by stoking additional spread of COVID-19 that could lead to fatalities,” Abbott said. 

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