Tropical Storm Harvey evacuees surge to Houston shelters, including sports arena, religious centers

The torrential rains from Tropical Storm Harvey have finally come to an end in Houston, but shelters across the city -- now including a convention center, sports stadium and several religious centers -- continued to fill with thousands of evacuees Wednesday.

Officials opened a second major shelter late Tuesday at the NRG Center located on the south side of the city at the conference hall adjacent to the decommissioned Astrodome and the city's NFL stadium.

As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, about 1,030 people had arrived, according to Angela Blanchard, the CEO of nonprofit organizing the shelter, BakerRipley.

Houston's largest shelter, the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown, housed an estimated 11,000 of the displaced — twice its initial intended capacity. Some people slept on towels or strips of cardboard after the number of evacuees surpassed the initial capacity of 5,000 officials originally planned for.

The nearby Toyota Center -- where the NBA's Rockets play -- is serving as an overflow center downtown for families with children that don't have pressing medical needs. Tom McCasland, Houston's housing and community development director, told The Associated Press Tuesday 500 cots were added to the floor of the arena.

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Jonathan McNamara with the American Red Cross told Fox News as of Tuesday night, there were 32,000 people in 230 shelters run by Red Cross and affiliates across Texas. 

Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena, after critics blasted him on social media for not acting to help families displaced by the storm. Osteen, however, said Tuesday the claims that he didn't want to help Harvey victims were "totally false."

Eugene Rideaux, a 42-year-old mechanic who showed up at Osteen's Lakewood Church to sort donations for evacuees, told the AP he had not been able to work or do much since the storm first hit, so he was eager to get out of his dark house and help.

"It's been so dark for days now, I'm just ready to see some light. Some sunshine. I'm tired of the darkness," Rideaux said. "But it's a tough city, and we're going to make this into a positive and come together."

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Houston's Muslim community also opened its doors for those forced out by Harvey's floodwaters.

M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston told Mic.com that four of the group's mosques are now open as 24-hour shelters.

“This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others,” Khan said. “When you give, you don’t give only to your own family. You give to anybody who needs help.”

The city has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more supplies, including cots and food, for an additional 10,000 people, said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who hoped to get the supplies no later than Wednesday.

A full list of shelters available in the city is available FOX26 Houston's website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.