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Special Needs

Residents with special needs, the elderly and those without transportation require extra attention in order to stay safe during a disaster. Polk County has programs in place to help these residents prepare for a disaster and find safe 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. 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.


If you need a ride to a shelter, regardless of special need status, arrangements will be made with Polk County Transit Services to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter. If you are a special needs client, you will be asked about your transportation plans.


Polk residents are eligible at any age, who meet any of the following conditions:

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

Persons who require evaluation and possible health care facility placement:

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


To register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation, please click here.

Or call your home health care provider or durable medical equipment provider.

Or call the Polk County Emergency Management Special Needs Program at (863) 298-7027.