Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shelter registration a must for special needs patients

When a hurricane evacuation is ordered, firefighters rush to take elderly and disabled residents to emergency shelters tailored to their needs.

The patients, some of whom depend on wheelchairs or respiratory equipment, have no family or friends to help them evacuate. And evacuating someone with special needs requires at least two firefighters.

But firefighters won't come unless people with special needs register with their local emergency agency — preferably ASAP.

St. Petersburg firefighter Pat Vines, who manages the city's evacuation database of about 500 people, calls everyone on the list before hurricane season. He inquires about their evacuation zone, whether they can go out of town and if they depend on electricity for survival. This helps prioritize evacuations.

"Our database is for those people who have no other means for shelter or transportation," Vines said.

About 4,000 people can wait out a storm in three special-needs shelters in Pinellas County. For more information, call (727) 464-3800 or visit: pinellascounty.org/emergency/specialneeds.htm#register

Pasco County has enough space for 1,100 residents with special needs. More could be added if needed, said Jim Martin, the county's emergency management director. For information, call (727) 847-8137 or visit: pascoemergencymanagement.com.

Hernando County has space for 843 residents in special needs shelters. For information, call (352)754-4083 or visit: hernandosheriff.org/em.

Hillsborough's special needs shelters can house 2,500 people, said Keely Smith, the Hillsborough's special needs shelter coordinator. For more information, call (813) 276-2385 or visit hillsboroughcounty.org/emergency/programsservices/specialneeds.cfm.

In Citrus County, residents should call (352) 249-2707 or visit: sheriffcitrus.org.

The coordinators discourage last-minute registrations, but you won't be turned away if you wait until the day before a storm strikes.

People with strict medical needs — whether evacuating to a shelter or to some place else — should pack 30 days worth of medication and supplies. Evacuees should also pack toiletries, a change of clothes, any Emergency Alert tags, and critical documents, including a marriage document, birth certificate and Social Security, banking and insurance cards.

Special-needs shelters have additional requirements. Those who use motorized wheelchairs or scooters should take walkers and regular wheelchairs to a shelter because there are not enough outlets to charge them, said nurse Andrea Allen, Pinellas County health department's special needs coordinator.

To learn more

Read and print the American Red Cross' hurricane preparedness guide for people with special needs and disabilities at http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/Preparing/A4497.pdf

More tips from Humana

• Use 90-day prescription home-delivery service from health benefits provider to make sure you don't run out of medicine during an evacuation or while businesses are closed.

• Write down your insurance carrier's 24-hour hotline to find the nearest hospital, pharmacy or physician.

• Order replacement cards now if you can't find health insurance or Medicare cards. Keep them in your wallet or a safe place.

Shelter registration a must for special needs patients 05/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 5:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.