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Special Needs Shelters

Florida Department of Health in Marion County

Special Needs Shelters  

What is a special needs shelter?

Special needs shelters provide more care and supervision than a typical shelter. Its focus is helping people who have special medical needs during an emergency evacuation. It should only be used as a back-up to your personal sheltering plan.

Special needs shelter registry

The special needs shelter registry is a confidential listing of people who will need assistance during an emergency.  The registry is updated annually through contacting registered participants. Residents with special medical needs (for ex., nebulizers, oxygen, feeding tubes, or Alzheimer’s disease) are likely eligible for the registry. Before you register, discuss your medical needs with your doctor.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible if:

  • You have special medical needs but do not require hospitalization.
  • You need assistance with basic everyday tasks.
  • You have a chronic condition that requires assistance.

For more information or to determine eligibility, check with Marion County Emergency Management or contact the Special Needs Coordinator at 352-369-8136.


Should I register with the special needs shelter registry?

The answer is “yes” if you have no other place to go and need:

  • Assistance with medication
  • Observation by a health professional
  • Electricity for life-supporting medical equipment
  • Basic nursing care
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Assistance to evacuate

Don’t wait until there’s an emergency to register

Pre-registering with the special needs shelter registry will ensure that you have a back-up plan. If you can stay with family or friends or at a hotel out of the emergency area, you should. If you have no other sheltering option, pre-register and be prepared to go to the special needs shelter. Caregivers are encouraged to go with residents who use special needs shelters.


What should I expect?

A shelter may be in a school or other public facility and be crowded and noisy. It will not be as comfortable or convenient as a home or hotel. It will not be able to provide the level of care found in a medical facility.

The following basics are provided at the shelter:

  • Food and water
  • Basic medical assistance and monitoring
  • An area for you and your caregiver to sleep
  • Back-up electricity for light and essential medical equipment

If residents need special food or snacks, they must bring it with them. Complex medical equipment or care isn’t available in the special needs shelters.

Items to bring

Residents should have emergency supplies on hand for use during an evacuation or other emergencies. Special needs shelter residents should bring the following with them during an emergency shelter visit:

  • Personal and medical information
  • At least 3 days of medications supply
  • Vital medical supplies and equipment, such as oxygen
  • Special dietary foods
  • Documentation relating to Do Not Resuscitate order or a living will if have one.
  • Personal identification
  • Hearing aids, glasses or other corrective aids
  • At least two changes of clothing, including a warm jacket or sweater
  • Blanket, pillow, folding chair and cot
  • Personal hygiene items, such as towel, wash cloth, tooth brush and tooth paste, deodorant, soap, or sanitary products
  • Supplies for service animals (if accompanying individual to shelter)

For more information about hurricane preparedness or how to register for special needs shelters, visit the Marion County Special Needs Programs page or contact the Special Needs Coordinator at 352-369-8136.

Special needs shelter online registration form