General Population Shelters
What you need to know:
Lee County, as well as the greater Southwest Florida region, is experiencing a shelter deficit. If you have a safe place to evacuate to, plan to use your alternate location rather than a public shelter. Shelters offer only basic life sustaining necessities. Shelters are not able to provide any conveniences or luxuries. They are not hotels! The electricity could go out during part of your stay in the shelter. BUT, if you have no safe place to go, shelters will be open!
Service Animals are allowed in all shelters. "Service Animals" are defined as a dog or miniature horse that is trained to perform a service or task for their owners, and are not pets.
Remember weapons, smoking, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited at all shelters.
Preparing to go to a shelter:
Not all shelters are open for every storm. Only those shelters that are safe from the direction and intensity of each storm will open. If your home is in the evacuation zone, the shelter closest to your home would also be in the evacuation zone, and would not be safe. Local radio and television will broadcast the names of open shelters.
You can find our shelters listed on the map below and in the center of this Guide.
Food and water will be available, but there may be a slight delay in initial service. If you want or need special food items, bring them with you!
Below are some items you should consider bringing when going to a shelter:
Snacks and/or special foods
Lawn chair and/or bed roll
Books, magazines, or electronic entertainment item with headphones
Medications (prescription & over the counter)
Change of clothing / personal hygiene items
Arriving at a shelter:
When you arrive, register with shelter staff. If you leave the shelter, check out with the shelter staff. Accountability is important for your safety.
Having a positive attitude will be helpful to everyone. Having to go to a shelter is stressful for all. Shelters can be crowded, noisy, and loud. Being considerate will help remind others to do the same. Also, consider volunteering to help the shelter staff.
Listen for official information and do not participate in rumors or gossip. Ask the shelter staff for clarification, if necessary.
Pets are subject to the same hazards we are and have many of the same needs. At this time, pet shelter spaces are limited. South Fort Myers High School is currently designated as Lee County's Pet-Friendly Shelter. The shelter is managed by Lee County Domestic Animal Services and is first-come, first-serve. No pre-registration is required.
As with your own evacuation plans, the best plan for your pet is to identify a location out of the area that allows pets (e.g. a friend’s home or hotel). There are many websites that can help you locate hotels that accept pets, such as www.petswelcome.com.
You should have a supply kit for your pets, including:
- non-perishable food
- sturdy cage or carrier to comfortably hold your pet
- up-to-date vaccination records
Also, keep several photos of your pet with you to help identify your pet should you become separated.
Place identification on your pet's collar and consider using a microchip to identify your pet. Microchipping will make it easier to locate your pet should you become separated during an emergency event. Animal Services offers a walk-in, low cost microchipping program to County pet owners. More information can be found at www.leegov.com/animalservices or by calling (239) 533-7387.
South Fort Myers High School
Items to Remember:
- Never leave your pet(s) outside during a storm
- Never leave a cat with a dog, even if the two are friends
- Confine and keep small pets (birds, hamsters, etc.) away from cats and dogs
- Dangerous animals should be secured in special crates or cages
- Any animals posing a danger will be at risk of being destroyed
All animal facilities in the path of a hurricane are subject to some degree of damage or flooding. Keep in mind boarding kennels may be without electricity or potable water and have limited personnel and supplies for days to weeks following a disaster.
If you have exotic pets, check with your veterinarian for suggestions on shelters for them.
If you plan and prepare early before hurricanes are threatening, you and your pets will be ready when the storms arrive.