As the 2014 hurricane season draws near, Floridians are urged to prepare or update hurricane kits and make arrangements for a possible evacuation.
But extra preparations must be made for those with special needs, such as the elderly or the sick.
Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties have designated shelters to accommodate those with special needs. Depending on the county, prior registration may be required.
"We encourage everyone to register beforehand," said Preston Cook, Hillsborough County emergency manager. "It's to ensure that we can meet your needs and understand what your needs are and prepare."
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Here are special-needs shelters and related information for residents in the Tampa Bay area:
Main shelter (capacity 600)
• Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, 13400 Elgin Blvd., Spring Hill.
• West Hernando Middle School, 14325 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville
• Brooksville Enrichment Center, 99 Jerome Brown Place, Brooksville
Preregister with your name, phone number and address by calling (352) 754-4083, or visit www.hernandosheriff.org/em/ to download an application online. You can fill it out by hand and mail it to 18900 Cortez Blvd. Brooksville, FL 34601
If you are headed to a shelter, bring medications, a change of clothing, dietary requirements, durable medical equipment such as walkers, important papers such as insurance policies, an accompanying caregiver, if necessary.
For more information, contact Cecilia Patella, director of emergency management, at (352) 754-4083.
Main shelters: (capacity 4,293)
• John Hopkins Middle, 701 16th St. S, St. Petersburg
• Oak Grove Middle, 1370 S Belcher Road, Clearwater
• Dunedin Highland Middle, 70 Patricia Ave., Dunedin
Advance registration is not necessary, but if you require transportation, you should sign up for special-needs evacuation assistance program.
Residents can call emergency services at (727) 464-3800, Pinellas County Department of Health at (727) 824-6900 or your local fire department on the non-emergency line.
If you need advanced medical treatment, prepare arrangements with your physician. For more information, call Tom Iovino, public information officer for Pinellas County Emergency Management at (727) 464-5573.
Main shelters: (capacity 1,173)
• The Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave., Hudson.
• Wiregrass High School, 2909 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel.
• Wesley Chapel High School, 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel.
Register online at www.pascocountyfl.net/index.aspx?nid=713, or call (727) 847-8137 for a mail-in form. Transportation will be provided for special-needs individuals and caregivers. Contact: Annette Doying, director of emergency management, at (727) 847-8137.
Main shelters (2,480)
• Erwin Technical Center, 2010 E Hillsborough Ave., Tampa.
• USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa
• Riverview High School, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview
• Hillsborough Community College at the Regent, 6437 Watson Road, Riverview.
Prior registration encouraged. Residents can go to hillsboroughcounty.org/emergency or call the Hillsborough County Info line at (813) 272-5900 or the Hillsborough County Health Department at (813) 307-8063 for additional assistance.
Special-needs shelters will be available for people requiring more skilled medical care than available in a public shelter, but not requiring an acute care facility, such as a hospital.
Contact: Preston Cook, Hillsborough County emergency manager, (813) 236-3800.