NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials in New Orleans have tested plans to use the professional basketball arena as a new processing site during emergency evacuations.

A city news release says last week's exercise at the Smoothie King Center involved nearly 100 workers representing city, state, federal and private sector agencies.

The city announced in May that it will use the center as a processing area for people who need evacuation assistance because of their financial, medical or transportation challenges.

The city estimates that 35,000 to 40,000 residents will need assistance when and if a mandatory evacuation is required.

Hurricane season began June 1, and city emergency director Collin Arnold says Friday's test run shows New Orleans is ready if a major storm comes its way.

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