PORT ARTHUR - County officials and FEMA representatives are waiting to approve a contract that would provide 500 tents for displaced residents and evacuees at the Bob Bowers Civic Center.
FEMA Division Supervisor Scott Thomas said FEMA and DHS headquarters are working on a contract with BCFS which specializes in mass care services.
Thomas said he hopes the contract will be approved by the end of the night so the shelter can be in place for residents tomorrow.
He explains the first phase of the soft sided shelters will have 20 tents in the parking lot of the Bob Bowers Civic Center for 250 evacuees on Friday evening.
Thomas said the second phase will include more tents for 250 residents that could be available by the weekend.
County officials and FEMA representatives are also working on trying to find another location for more of the evacuees and displaced residents.
Thomas said they are planning on sheltering 1200 people at this time.
This morning, County Judge Jeff Branick told 12news barges will no longer be considered for temporary housing for displaced residents and evacuees in Port Arthur.
Coast Guard captain Jackie Twomey explained the barges were foreign vessels which were last inspected in 2012. The barge was also built to house workers in World War II and for accommodating workers in the oil fields.
Captain Twomey said the barges did not depart for Port Arthur on Wednesday night as planned.
Right now there are about 270 displaced residents who are living at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Red Cross shelter.
Port Arthur I.S.D School board members said evacuees are expected to move from the shelter in 24 hours so teachers can prepare for school on Monday.
PAISD school board Vice President Deborah Ambroise said she sympathizes for the displaced residents but emphasizes that school needs to start on Monday.
"It's crazy, it's confusing because they are not giving us answers on where we are going to go," said evacuee Movita Benjamin.
Benjamin has lived at the TJMS Red Cross shelter for over two weeks after she was rescued from her home on a boat during Harvey.
She only has a truck full of personal items from home and new belongings from the shelter.
"It’s very hard, I want to go home so bad but I can't because I lost everything," said Benjamin.
Originally the evacuees were planning on moving to two Barges which would have held 300 people each in the Port of Port Arthur.
Captain Twomey said there were concerns about fire safety, life saving and unfinished construction work with the Barges.
Officials were also looking at options for shelter like Ford Park but have not confirmed if it would be used as a shelter.
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