Register for Special Needs Disaster Assistance

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Residents with special needs, seniors, and those without transportation require extra attention to stay safe during a tropical storm or hurricane. Hillsborough County has programs in place to help these residents prepare and find safe shelter and transportation.

Things To Know

  1. What is a special needs shelter? 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.
    Resource: Florida Department of Health's criteria for assignment to a Special Needs shelter
  2. What is available at the shelter?
    • Supplies and medical equipment available include:
      • medical cots
      • linens, blankets, and pillows
      • oxygen
      • generator power
    • General and medical staff to assist the client and the client's caregiver
  3. Are there any fees? This is a free service.
  4. What is the shelter space like?
    • The shelter is an open and shared space
    • Space is limited, so bring only one bag (not including medical equipment/supplies)
    • Only use the shelters if you have no other option for refuge
  5. What should I bring?
    • Bring your own medical equipment, special dietary foods, and supplies, including:
      • medications
      • list of medications
      • wound care supplies
      • bedding
      • towel/washcloth
      • change of clothing
      • wheelchair/walker
      • personal hygiene items (soap, toothbrush, adult diapers, etc.)
    • We also highly encourage you to bring one caregiver to assist you at the shelter
  6. Should I bring my own oxygen tank or concentrator? Yes, please bring your own oxygen tank or concentrator so you have enough oxygen to get to the shelter and to return home.
  7. Are pets allowed at the shelter? Currently, all of the special needs shelters are pet friendly. Service animals may accompany you in the shelter and stay with you, and we will keep all other pets (non-service) kenneled in a separate room where staff will monitor them you can visit and care for them. It is your responsibility bring your pet’s kennel, food, and supplies. Please consider making separate arrangements for your pets prior to arriving at the shelter. For information about pet sheltering contact Pet Resources at (813) 301-PETS (7387).
  8. Is transportation assistance available? Yes. The evaluation form will ask if you need a ride to the shelter. If you mark "yes", we will make arrangements with Sunshine Line to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter.
  9. How do I check my evacuation zone and route? If you need assistance locating your evacuation zone or evacuation route, please contact Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management at (813) 236-3800. You can also look up your evacuation zone on our Evacuation Zone and Emergency Shelter Map.

    All Hillsborough County residents are expected to make their own evacuation plans. It is important that everyone be responsible for their own safety and make a plan that includes where to go, who to contact, what to bring, and how to get there. However, the County realizes that some individuals may need assistance and have emergency shelters available for residents and visitors available as a last resort.
  10. May I register during an evacuation? No, when a storm is approaching and evacuation efforts begin, registration efforts stop. If you are not registered and believe you should go to a special needs shelter during an evacuation, you may monitor local media to determine which special needs shelters are open and go to the one closest to you. You will be triaged onsite to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. Pre-registration is preferred to expedite entry at the special needs shelter and assist us with planning, but you do not have to be registered to go to a shelter.
  11. Do residents in hospice care or assisted living facilities need to register? No. If you or a loved one receive hospice care or reside in an assisted living facility, contact the assisted living facility or hospice agency for emergency preparedness planning. They will arrange sheltering and/or transportation needs.

How To

  1. To register for a special needs shelter or transportation, complete the program evaluation form by one of the following methods:
    • Online registration (preferred registration method)

    • Complete an evaluation form and mail or fax to:
      Hillsborough County Health Department
      P.O. Box 5135
      Tampa, FL 33675-5135
      • English form*
      • Spanish form*
        *These are fillable PDF forms and may not open correctly with some browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox. Please download the form, then open it using a PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the Adobe PDF reader for free.

    • Call your home health care provider

    • Call the Hillsborough County Health Department at (813) 307-8063

  2. The evaluation form requests information about your medical problems and needs; be as detailed as possible so we can evaluate your form accurately for eligibility

What's Next

Once your form is evaluated, you will receive a letter indicating your status along with more information about the program.

Get Help

(813) 236-3800