But hours later, a hospital spokesman said it had not yet begun because the hospital was surrounded by water and rescuers could not reach its 350 patients.
As of early Monday, six to 10 other hospitals and various nursing homes were also evacuated, said Darrell Pile, CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, which established a catastrophic medical operations center in Houston’s emergency command center. “Our kitchen is shut down so we’re relying on dry foods” and have enough to last through dinner Tuesday, Bryan McLeod, a spokesman for the hospital’s parent company, Harris Health System, said Monday afternoon Heavy rains had thwarted plans Sunday to move the patients to neighboring hospitals in the Texas Medical Center, a large medical complex southwest of downtown.
The facility closed is located in the Willowbrook area, northwest of Houston. Patients who already had been admitted are receiving care as usual, a spokeswoman said.
The city, Red Cross, Dallas County, Parkland Hospital, the Salvation Army, Children’s Hospital and other volunteer groups are coordinating the logistics of getting the shelter ready.
The situation at Ben Taub briefly raised fears and memories of the dire straits at some New Orleans hospitals where patients were trapped for days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. High-clearance vehicles would take patients to other hospitals in the complex and elsewhere in Houston if need be, he said. Other hospitals in the center of Houston have warned people not to approach the area surrounding the city’s Medical Center due to flooded roads.
Patients will be sent to other area hospitals until repairs are made.
Hurricane Harvey, which killed two people and devastated parts of Texas this weekend, was causing some hospitals to close or evacuate because of flooding and still-dangerous weather. Damage totalled more than $2 billion. Underground tunnels were outfitted with 100 submarine doors, some 12 feet tall. AP Writer Joe Danborn contributed from Dallas.