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Emergency Shelters

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Evacuation Policy

Polk County does not have a mandatory evacuation policy. It is the policy of Polk Count’s 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 your residence during the emergency, if possible.
  • Evacuate to friend’s or relative’s 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 coastal counties 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 county’s public shelter policy. To obtain a Polk County Public Shelter Map, visit a Publix Super Market store near you. This can help with finding storm and special shelters.

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 (PGTV), this website, social media and 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.

Pet Friendly Shelters

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 County’s pet-friendly shelters. All animals must be in a crate and vaccinations must be up-to-date. Proof of those vaccinations will need to be presented at the shelter.

Special Needs Shelters

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. 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.