Hurricane Plan Released for Homestead Detention Center

It's been two months since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services refused to release a hurricane plan for the Homestead detention center in Florida. Miami-Dade County is also working on a “Plan B”, leaders say.

by Monique O. Madan, Miami Herald / July 29, 2019
Protesters and activists hold signs while waiting for the Democratic presidential candidates to arrive outside of the Florida Homestead detention center on June 28, 2019. AP/Jennifer King

(TNS) — Roughly two months after refusing to release its hurricane plan for the Homestead detention center, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finally unveiled its evacuation plan to several members of Congress this week.

Parts of the plan were shared orally with Miami-Dade County Emergency Management leaders as well as with Miami-Dade police. HHS would not provide the full plan to the Miami Herald.

Frank Rollason, the county’s emergency management director, told the Herald the feds plan on flying out the remaining 800 children at the facility to various states around the country should a hurricane threaten South Florida. Once out of South Florida, the children wouldn’t be brought back to Homestead, he said.

“They gave us no plan,” Rollason said. “They just said they’re going to fly them out. They’ll do it as soon as the storm appears and when we’re in a threatened area.”

Federal sources close to the operation told the Herald that the government is working hand in hand with the National Hurricane Center in Miami and that, depending on the proximity of the storm, children will either be bused or flown to migrant shelters across the country, depending on bed space.

In addition to the government’s hurricane plan, Miami-Dade County is working on a “Plan B” should anything fail, leaders say.

“If any of the kids, staff or security don’t make it out for any reason, we will work with the feds to house them at one of our Miami-Dade County shelters, separate from the general population,” Rollason said. “The ratio is one to one. So if there are 500 kids, I need to find space for 1,000 people.”

He added: “We wait for the cone, they don’t wait for that. The last time during Matthew they flew them to El Paso. Once they fly them out they won’t bring them back. And if the camp empties, they will take the soft structures down and store them.”

Caliburn, the company contracted to operate the facility, would be charged with taking down any temporary structures such as the dozens of white tents that stand on the property.

As of July 3, HHS placed a hold on all incoming children at Homestead. In order to meet storm safety standards, the government had to reduce its population to 1,200 children, officials told a touring delegation two weeks ago.

Since then, almost 2,000 children have been dispatched either to a sponsor or to another detention center, HHS said.

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(Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.)

 

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