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San Antonio Could Welcome Hurricane Ida Evacuees — COVID Would Make That Tricky

Ida pictured Friday near Cuba.
Satellite image from National Hurricane Center in Miami
Hurricane Ida pictured Friday near Cuba.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed confidence in the city's ability to handle thousands of hurricane evacuees if Hurricane Ida possibly makes landfall in Louisiana on Sunday.

The city once housed tens of thousands of evacuees from two large hurricanes during one violent tropical season from more than 15 years ago.

Nirenberg and Wolff both say San Antonio assisted thousands of hurricane evacuees from Louisiana and East Texas with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in August and September of 2005.

Wolff recalls Rita.

"The last time we had a serious thing out over Louisiana was when Rita hit and we had, I don't know, 20,000 people come in here, but hopefully that's doing to happen to Louisiana," he said.

Nirenberg said the state would need to assist San Antonio because of the pandemic if the worst happens.

"The state ought to start booking hotel rooms for evacuations because we cannot have people congregating in the midst of a surge like we are seeing," Nirenberg said.

During the combined evacuations of Katrina and Rita, local air force bases, the empty Levi Strauss blue jeans factory and even an abandoned portion of Windsor Park Mall were used to house evacuees.

Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. the center of Hurricane Ida was located by Cuban radar and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 21.6 North, longitude 82.7 West. Ida is moving toward the northwest near 15 mph (24 km/h), and this general motion should continue over the next few days.

On the forecast track, the center of Ida will move over the southeastern and central Gulf of Mexico Friday night and Saturday. Ida is forecast to make landfall along the U.S. northern Gulf coast within the hurricane watch area on Sunday.

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