Young evacuees transition into Austin-area schools

Evacuees from Beaumont looking to enroll in Austin-area schools until it's safe for them to return home. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard)
Evacuees from Beaumont looking to enroll in Austin-area schools until it's safe for them to return home. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As evacuees displaced by Hurricane Harvey settle into life at the Austin Red Cross megashelter, many of their children are starting school again, integrating into Austin area schools.

Many of the evacuees who first came to Austin were eligible to enroll in Austin ISD. The shelter on Metropolis is technically zoned for Del Valle ISD, so evacuees who came to Austin before the Metropolis shelter was designated can choose whether they’d like to enroll in Austin ISD or Dell Valle ISD.

Del Valle ISD said that as of Friday, they had 29 evacuee students enrolled, though at one point they had 38. Many of these students are believed to have returned back to where they’re from.

As of Friday, Austin ISD also had 29 evacuees enrolled in their schools.

The city of Austin said there are currently 180 people staying at the shelter. Geof Sloan with Central Texas Red Cross said that while the number of people at the shelter is slowly decreasing, there are still many people there who cannot return to their homes.

“These residents they are upbeat, they are helping each other out, they are getting to know each other, they’re building their own communities inside of the shelter,” Sloan said. “So I think that’s the resiliency of a Texan and how well they take care of each other.”

Sloan added that the shelter gets noticeably quieter when the students head off to school.

“The kids get up in the morning, get their stuff together, get their breakfast, the bus is here ready to pick them up early in the morning,” Sloan said. “In the afternoons the kids get dropped back off, after that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin has made arrangements to do some after school events for the kids as well.”

He added that there are both “kid zones” and quiet areas where evacuees can go to do their homework.

Sloan said the shelter doesn’t have a definitive timeline for how long they’ll be helping evacuees at the shelter, but he added that they’ll keep it open for as long as it’s needed.

That is welcome news to Zachary Broussard who evacuated from his Beaumont home with his children and grandchildren.

Broussard came to the shelter in Austin Monday to learn more about services and getting his kids enrolled in Austin-area schools. “They’re gonna go to school, they’re gonna be in school before it’s time for us to leave,” he said.

His daughters chimed in, they said it’s boring not being in class and they’re ready to go back to school.

Their family plans on eventually returning to Beaumont, but with a flooded home which still needs to dry out, that could be a while.

“We’re trying to make everything right before we go back to Beaumont,” Broussard said.

Red Cross noted that the city’s Multi Agency Resource Center will close after 6 p.m. Tuesday. They encourage evacuees to head to the shelter on Metropolis to start the process of applying for aid or FEMA support if they haven’t done so already.

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