Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center Shelters 9,000+ Evacuees; Fern Mobilizes Relief Effort

August 30, 2017
George R. Brown Convention Center

After Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas Coast and spurred days of record rainfall resulting in deadly flooding conditions, the doors of Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center opened and currently houses more than 9,000 evacuees.

In addition, Houston’s NRG Center opened last night as a shelter, and the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas also is mobilized so it, too, will be able to take in people as needed.  

Visit Houston released the following statement:

“Over these last few days, the residents of this great city have shown the true Heart of Houston, and demonstrated how resilient and caring a community can be under the most trying circumstances. We are proud of the efforts of so many Houstonians who have come to the aid of their fellow man in these trying times. While Harvey’s rains will soon leave this city, much work remains to be done. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from around the nation, and the many donations to local charities that will be needed to help support those who have lost so much.”

Here is an update on major convention hotels and facilities:

  • At the moment, Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center is serving as an emergency shelter for thousands who have been left homeless. The Convention Center is fully functional and the convention campus, Avenida Houston, sustained no damage. At this point it’s too early to say how long the facility will be used in that capacity.
  • According to the most recent reports, surrounding hotels in downtown Houston sustained no damage and are fully operational.
  • Both airports are expected to be operational by the end of the week.
  • Many of the facilities in Houston’s Theatre District have sustained damage. Evaluations are currently underway to determine the extent of the damage, and its impact on future operations.

The trade show community has responded with offers of assistance not only through donations to the Red Cross, but also in more hands-on ways, such as Fern Expositions collecting needed items in several of its locations to be dropped off early next week at the latest in Houston.

“Our team is very pleased to have an opportunity to be able to offer some assistance,” said Aaron Bludworth, Fern Expositions’ CEO and president.

He added, “All members of the team who I have spoken with are excited to be part of the effort and recognize the importance of helping address this need. We really have a great team and helping others comes pretty naturally.”

Bludworth said in several cities they have numerous partners that have organically joined in the effort, including convention centers, CVB’s, and hotels.

“Of course, many individual donors are also coming by,” he added.

The initial plan, Bludworth said, is to deliver to the George R. Brown, but they also are monitoring where the highest need is when the deliveries are made.

“We will make that decision later in the week with input from the agencies providing relief and FEMA,” he added.

So why did Fern step up to help out the people of Houston? We didn’t really think about it. There is great need and we have resources that can be used to help,” Bludworth said. “I’m glad we are able to use our resources this way. “

For more info on Fern's efforts and where they are taking donations, please visit: http://www.fernexpo.com/news/hurricane-harvey-relief/

Want to help? Here are several ways:

Meetings Industry Fund

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

Houston Food Bank

Houston Humane Society

United Way of Greater Houston

American Red Cross


Is your company helping out in some way? Let us know! rwimberly@tsnn.com.

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Partner Voices

Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce the approval of a 2.5 million square-foot convention center with 800,000 square feet of exhibit space and 300,000 square feet of breakout area, including 160,000 square feet of ballroom. “This news is a game changer for Dallas and will put our city on the map as the preeminent large-city convention and meeting destination in the nation,” said Craig Davis, Visit Dallas President & CEO.