Emergency Shelters

Evacuation Policy

It is the policy of the Polk County Emergency Management Division to recommend in-place shelter as the primary option during a disaster. For those unable to remain in place, especially those in mobile homes, the remaining choices should be considered in order of preference. Whichever of the following options is selected, it is advised that a 72-Hour Survival Kit be assembled and ready, a course of action be planned, and that the plans be executed as soon as practicable before the disaster hits. The recommended options are:

  1. In-place Shelter - plan to remain in residence during the emergency, if possible.
  2. Evacuate to Friends or Relative Residence - if forced to evacuate, it is less traumatic for all concerned to be sheltered with familiar people, in more comfortable surroundings.
  3. Evacuate the Area - other people leaving this area or areas in the projected path of the storm will also be on the road; leave at least 48-72 hours before the storm is expected to strike.
  4. Evacuate to the Hotel/Motel - make arrangements early as rooms will fill quickly with other evacuees.
  5. Evacuate to a Public Shelter - please see the Public Shelter policy. To obtain a Polk County Public Shelter Map, visit Polk County Public Library or Publix Super Market near you.

Emergency Public Shelters

Not all public shelters are automatically activated for each emergency. They are opened as needed and are not pre-assigned by geographic area. During an emergency please monitor Polk County Government Television, other local television and radio stations for open shelter information. Have your 72-Hours Survival Kit ready to take with you. Weapons and alcoholic beverages are not allowed at any public shelter.

Download the list of Emergency Public Shelters.

View Hurricane Shelter Map 

Special Needs Program

A Special Needs Shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting.  Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should Pre-register (PDF) with the Polk County Division of Emergency Management (863) 534-5600.

Download the Hurricane Preparedness for People with Special Needs brochure (PDF)

Polk County residents eligible, any age, who:

 1. Activities of daily living are restricted by immobility that their basic needs must be    met by others.
 2. Needs assistance with the administration of their medications.
 3. Requires dressing changes because of moderate/copious drainage (ulcers, fistulas)
 4. Needs assistance with ostomy management, indwelling catheters (n/g tube, colostomy bags, etc.).
 5. Requires daily assessment of medical condition by professional nursing personnel. 
  (cardiac, diabetic).
 6. Cardiac or respiratory conditions requiring electrical medical equipment - oxygen 3 liters or less, apnea monitors, nebulizers etc.
 7. All others deemed necessary by triage nurse.

Persons who require evaluation and possible health care facility placement:

 1. Persons in sudden acute medical or emergency condition.
 2. Oxygen dependent persons requiring oxygen 4 liter flow and higher.
 3. Bedridden persons & persons requiring a hospital type bed who, for medical reasons, cannot use cots for emergency bedding & persons requiring Hoyer lift transfers.
 4. Persons require continuous air conditioning for medical reasons.
 5. Persons do not possess functional ambulation capability.
 6. High risk pregnancy within four weeks of estimated date of delivery or in active    labor.  Normal pregnancy should get instructions from their obstetrician.