Emergency Public Shelter
It is necessary to prepare an evacuation plan before hurricane season arrives, and you should have several options from which to choose. If your first option does not work and you have no other safe place to go, you should go to an Emergency Public Shelter.
A shelter is a safe place to be during an emergency. However, it offers only the basic life-sustaining necessities, such as shelter from the weather; water and food; and sanitary services. The shelter will likely not have electricity for the majority of your stay. It will be noisy, crowded and somewhat uncomfortable. In a storm of similar size to those we have experienced here the past few decades, each person will be assigned 20 square feet of space to sleep and keep your things. In the event we are faced with a catastrophic storm, we will be focused on life safety and will bring into the shelter all those seeking refuge from the storm, reducing individual space allowance for a period of time.
Be sure the shelter is open before you go. All listed shelters will not be open for every storm. Local radio and television stations will announce which shelters are open. We cannot predict how long you may have to remain at the shelter, since we cannot predict how damaging the effects of each storm will be. Food will be provided, but you should bring some food items with you for between meals, or in case you do not like what is being served. If you have diet restrictions or require specialty foods, you must bring those.
You must bring your own personal hygiene items, sleeping bags/cots, blankets, towels and comfort items to the shelter. Being considerate of others and having a positive attitude will be helpful to
Lee County Special Needs Program
The Special Needs Program is available to all Lee County residents at no cost. It provides shelter from a Tropical Storm or Hurricane for those who live in a home and/or area that is not safe from storm surge or wind, and have no other safe place to go. It also provides transportation to a shelter for those residents who do not have a way to get there. You must register to receive these services by completing the Special Needs Program application below.
Registering with the Special Needs Program does not guarantee you will be assigned a space in the Special Medical Needs Shelter. Your application will be reviewed by the Department of Health, and you will be assigned to a shelter where your needs can be managed.
Printable application - English Aplicación imprimible - Español
Some things you should know about the program:
- You must update your information every year.
- We stop processing applications when Lee County enters the five-day forecast cone of a storm, so submit your application early in the season.
Not every shelter will open. Only those safe from storm surge and wind for each particular storm will open.
- Emergency Public Shelters are open to everyone and do not require pre-registration.
- Bring to the shelter things you need to survive, such as prescriptions, personal hygiene items, sleeping bag, cot, pillow, change of clothes, glasses, special dietary needs, books/magazines/cards or other things to help pass the time while sheltering.
- Food and water will be provided, but we suggest you bring some food and drinks with you.
- Service animals are allowed in all shelters.
- You can bring your dog or cat to shelter with you at the General Population and Special Medical Needs Shelters. They will be housed and sleep in a different area from you, but you will have access to them for feeding, walking and spending time.
What you need to know about the Special Medical Needs Shelter:
- The Special Medical Needs Shelter will be open for those with medical needs that require electricity, such as oxygen dependence, dialysis, ventilators, nebulizers, etc.
- You must pre-register for the Special Medical Needs Shelter using the application above.
- You need a companion/caregiver to accompany you during the time you shelter, as we have a limited number of staff working.
- After a shelter has been assigned to you by Dept. of Health, you will receive a confirmation letter and instructions to advise what to expect if shelters are opening.
- You will receive a call to let you know when we are opening the Special Medical Needs Shelter.
If you have questions about the Special Needs Program, call 239-533-0640.
In a hurricane, pets are subjected to the same hazards as people and have many of the same needs. Evacuating to a friend's home or pet-friendly hotel outside of the evacuation zone would be a good plan. If that isn't available, you can bring your cat or dog to our Pet-Friendly Shelter. Pet-Friendly shelters will be open in every storm; locations may vary.
Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) manages this shelter. It is first-come, first-served, and there is no pre-registration required. You must shelter at the school with your pet (in other words, you cannot drop your pet at the shelter and leave). Owners are responsible for feeding, exercising and cleaning up after their pets.
Your pet will need a Hurricane Disaster Kit, too. Include water, non-perishable food, medications and clean-up supplies. You will need a crate or carrier, collar and leash, and up-to-date vaccination records for your pet. Having a recent photo of your pet will be helpful if you get separated.
- Never leave your pets outside during a storm.
- Never leave a cat with a dog, even if the two are normally friends.
- Confine and keep small pets (birds, hamsters, etc.) away from cats and dogs.
- Dangerous animals should be secured in special crates or cages.
LCDAS has a website on hurricane preparedness for your pets, filled with tips and information on how to get your pets ready. https://www.leegov.com/animalservices/safety/hurricane
For more information call Lee County Animal Services at 239-533-7387, or go to www.LeeLostPets.com.
Would you like to assist with shelter support? Get started by completing the
Weapons, smoking and alcoholic beverages are prohibited at all shelters.