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A special needs shelter is a shelter of last resort for people who need more medical supervision than a general population shelter can provide due to special medical needs, but they do not require hospitalization. A person with special needs is someone who during an evacuation, either mandatory or voluntary, will require assistance that exceeds the basic level of care provided at the general population shelter, but they will not require the level of skilled medical care provided at institutional facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Registration is voluntary. This registry is for planning purposes only and will NOT initiate any automatic services on behalf of the registrant. Assistance needed by individuals must be initiated at the time of need by the individual by calling local officials when evacuations have been ordered. All registrations expire after one year and must be updated on the anniversary of the registration.

Special Needs Registry

Those who have discussed sheltering options with their physician or caregiver and who may consider themselves to be special needs are asked to pre-register with the Public Safety Department online here:

Should you have any questions, you may call 850-471-6400.

Once it has been determined the special needs shelter will open, spaces may fill quickly. The special needs shelter does not accept reservations nor does the registry save shelter spaces for individuals.

Special Needs Shelter Eligibility

Click here to view a general guide to determine which shelter you may qualify for during disaster evacuations. This list is meant to be utilized as a guide for planning purposes and is not all-inclusive. Everyone will be medically screened upon arrival at the special needs shelter for proper shelter placement.

Click here for Florida Department of Health Information Regarding the Escambia County Special Needs Registry and Public Shelter Program

 Medical Questions
For medical questions about which shelter will best accommodate your needs, call the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County at 850-595-6683, ext. 2201.
 Special Needs Shelter Q&A
When does the special needs shelter open?

The special needs shelter will open at the discretion of the Escambia County Public Safety Department, along with general community shelters.  Residents are urged to monitor local media outlets for further information.

How do I get to the shelter?

After consulting with your physician/if you think you qualify for the special needs shelter, the Escambia County Transit Authority may provide you transportation round trip from your home to the shelter only upon request.  Please reference your registration form for further specifications, including wheelchair accessibility. Contact ECAT for more information at 850-595-3228.

What preparations should be made before coming to a shelter?

  • Consult with your physician regarding best sheltering options. 
  • Home healthcare clients should discuss emergency plans with your caregiver or agency. Have the contact information for your caregiver or agency with you at the shelter.
  • Alert family members of your emergency plan prior to arriving at the shelter.
  • Consult with your medical equipment provider to ensure you will have adequate supplies upon your return home.
  • Phone service and availability cannot be guaranteed at the shelter.  Bring a fully charged cell phone with you as the shelter cannot accept phone calls for individuals under its care.

What are the special needs shelter accommodations?

Severity of emergencies varies and depending on each situation, the following may be available to those staying in the shelter and their caregivers:

  • Shower facilities
  • Meals up to three times per day if available (special dietary needs not available)
  • Electrical outlets are available for medical equipment only.
  • Caregivers will not receive a cot.
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