Shelter Space Might Be Slim During Hurricane Season

By Adria Goins – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) –  With the official start of the hurricane season getting underway June 1st, weather experts are predicting this could be the strongest season of storms in years.

The Northwest Louisiana chapter of the Red Cross has spent the last year getting ready. They have been checking supplies and making sure every is on high alert if a storm hits. Problem is, they might run out of places to put everyone.

"This season's going to be very similar in numbers to 2008 and 2005 which are some of the most active hurricane season's we have on record," said Stephen Parr, chief meteorologist at KSLA. "Some of those could track into the Ark-La-Tex."

The National Hurricane Center has predicted that there will be between 14-23 named storms, between 8-14 hurricanes, and 3-7 major hurricanes this season.

Michelle Davison is the assistant executive director for the Northwest Louisiana Red Cross. She was there during the last evacuations and has been working year round to make sure area shelters can open within a matter of minutes, but that might not be enough.

"If a hurricane like Katrina hit right now we would be very stretched," said Davison.

During Katrina, more than 23,000 evacuees filled the shelters in Shreveport-Bossier but the organization's current five locations cannot take care of that many people.

"At any one time probably 11,000 is the max number that we can hold at a Red Cross run shelter," said Davison.

The list of centers from out of state has grown smaller after Tennessee canceled 4,000 of its shelters because of its recent flooding disasters. Area Homeland Security officials will be meeting next week to figure out who to replace those shelters. They said they are keeping their fingers crossed that there is not a full coastal evacuation during this hurricane season because it might be hard to find space for evacuees.

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