Dealing with hurricane season’s not a breeze

Hurricane evacuation graphicIn Hillsborough County, residents with special needs, the elderly, and those without transportation may require extra attention in order to stay safe during a tropical storm or hurricane. Hillsborough County has programs in place to help these residents prepare and find safe shelter.

Shelters. 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.

Transportation. If you apply for a special needs shelter, you will be asked about your transportation plans. If you need a ride to a shelter, arrangements will be made with Sunshine Line to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter.

Eligibility. In order to be admitted to a special needs shelter you will need to complete an evaluation form prior to an emergency and meet certain eligibility requirements. Once you have completed the evaluation form, you will be contacted for more information and your medical needs and eligibility will be assessed. If you are eligible to be admitted to a special needs shelter you will be assigned to one of three shelters. If you do not qualify for a special needs shelter, other options will be discussed with you.

Registering. To ensure availability and reserve evacuation assistance to a special needs shelter, residents should register prior to June 1, the beginning of the hurricane season. But if you need to register, and have not yet done so, you can still register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation by selecting one of the following options:

The Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management provides links to active storm info, the annual hurricane guide, the hurricane evacuation assessment tool, hurricane shelters, preparation & information, special needs, and transportation.

HART buses run special evacuation routes for people who need transportation to shelter. Emergency routes are designed to simply move people from low ground to higher ground.