Local officials urge residents with special needs to register for help in case of evacuations

If you have special medical needs and will need help evacuating to a shelter this hurricane season, county officials want you to register with them. 

"If there's any family that has any family members that require special needs assistance, now's the time to get them registered and start preparing them," Pinellas County Emergency Management’s Lou Raniszewski said. 

While it’s not technically required, county officials in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties told FOX 13 that registering for a special needs shelter is strongly recommended, so they need to know where to find you and what help you’re going to need.  

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Pinellas County has three special needs shelters at Oak Grove Middle, Dunedin Middle, and John Hopkins Middle schools. In the event of a storm, officials will make sure residents know exactly which ones are open. 

"They have backup generators and there is some limited assistance with the sheltering staff and some nursing staff that would be able to assist them," Raniszewski said.

Access to power and special staff are what separate these kinds of shelters from the general population ones. And if you’ll need transportation to a Pinellas County special needs shelter, then registering is required. 

Some things to keep in mind: Your service animal can come with you, but pets are not allowed. Pinellas County officials also encourage family members or caregivers to join you at the shelter.

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To request a registration form in Pinellas County, call Pinellas County Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800 or access the online form by visiting pinellas.gov/special-needs.

In Hillsborough County, there are six special needs shelters that are separate from the 48 general population shelters. 

To register in Hillsborough County, call the Hillsborough County Health Department at (813) 307-8063 or click here