Emergency Shelters

Evacuation Policy

It is the policy of Emergency Management 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:

  • In-place Shelter - plan to remain in residence during the emergency, if possible.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Evacuate to the Hotel/Motel - make arrangements early as rooms will fill quickly with other evacuees.
  • 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-hour survival kit ready to take with you. Weapons and alcoholic beverages are not allowed at any public shelter.

Download the 2017 Hurricane Shelter Map.

Pet Friendly Shelter

Polk County has three pet-friendly shelters that allow residents who own pets to shelter with their pets. Pre-registration is strongly suggested to ensure you have a spot at the shelter and some limitations apply. ONLY dogs, cats and birds and their owners will be allowed to shelter in Polk’s pet-friendly shelters. Download our ‘Don’t Forget Pets’ flyer for complete information including:

  • How to register
  • Pet shelter guidelines and requirements
  • What to do before the storm
  • Preparing a pet survival kit
  • Weathering the storm at home

Special Needs Shelter

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 with Emergency Management. Registration information is available at the bottom of this page. A special needs shelter is a temporary emergency facility capable of providing care to residents whose medical condition may require the use of electrical equipment, oxygen, dialysis, or individuals with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions who may require assistance from medical professionals. Although special needs shelters provide more care than a general shelter, they do not provide the level of care found in a medical facility.

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

Polk County Board of County Commissioners

330 W. Church St.
PO Box 9005
Bartow, FL 33831-9005
(863) 534-6000

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