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The Florida Department of Health's Special Needs Registry is for residents who will need assistance getting to a shelter or managing their medical needs in a shelter during a disaster.  Information in the Special Needs Registry provides local emergency management planners with valuable information to prepare for evacuations and mass care operations.  Existing Special Needs Registrants must update their information annually; ideally, prior to the start of hurricane season (June 1st).  

The time to apply for the Registry is when there are no storms threatening.  New Special Needs Registry applications will stop being accepted 72 hours prior to the expected arrival of tropical storm winds.  


Residents whose only option during an evacuation is to go to a public shelter should register in advance if:  

  1. They do not have personal transportation and will need a ride to get to the shelter when an evacuation is ordered.  

  2. Their daily healthcare needs exceed the basic first aid provided at general population shelters, they use home medical equipment that requires uninterrupted electricity (e.g., oxygen concentrator, nebulizer), or they are medically stable but need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).  Special Needs Shelters allocate space for the registrant, their equipment, and their caregivers; they are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain a vulnerable individual's level of health. 

Click the Florida Department of Health logo
to set up a new Special Needs Registry account or to log-in and update your registry information.

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What to Know about Mass Care Shelters

Mass Care Shelters
  • Mass care shelters are temporary public living quarters that provide physical shelter and essential services for evacuees and disaster survivors.  Mass care shelters can have many people living in a confined space, which can be difficult and unpleasant.  There is no privacy in a mass care shelter.  Space may be limited and cots are not guaranteed.  Basic food and water will be available, but emergency shelters cannot accommodate special dietary needs.  Weapons, alcohol, smoking, and vaping are not allowed on the public shelter property.  The first choice during an evacuation should be to go and take shelter with a friend or loved-one in their home outside of the evacuation area, and remain there until it is safe to return.  

  • Evacuees are expected to take their own supplies to emergency shelters, including medications, mobility equipment, blankets, pillows, changes of clothes, preferred food/snacks, and personal hygiene items.  Consider taking a book to pass the time.  Take everything you might need if you were going camping for a week, except the tent and cook-stove; if you don't take it with you, you won't have it.


  • Nassau's emergency mass care shelters are pet-friendly, but each pet will need proof of a current Rabies Vaccination, its own food, bowls, and a secure crate.  Cats will also need their own litter boxes.  Realize that pets will have to be housed in crates/cages in a room separate from the humans living in the shelter, and pet owners will be responsible for their daily care and feeding.  Reptiles cannot be accommodated in Nassau's public shelters.


  • Special Needs Shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain a medically vulnerable individual's level of health.  Special Needs Shelter staff can only offer basic medical support and monitoring.  Back-up electricity will be available for life-sustaining medical equipment.  Complex medical care is not available in any public shelter.​   

Preparedness Tip - Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit

  • Assemble an emergency supply "go-kit" in a duffle bag or backpack; label it with your name and phone number.  Store the supply kit in a place that is dry and easily accessible.  Medications and medical equipment, batteries, and power cords need to go into the supply kit before you go.  

  • Compile a list of friends or family who can be contacted during an evacuation; include the name and phone number of a primary medical provider as well as the names and doses of all medications.  Store those lists, and copies of important documents in the emergency go-kit.  Put paper lists in a Ziploc bag or make electronic copies of lists and documents - use a cellphone to take photos of them or save them to a thumb-drive kept in the emergency kit.  For insurance purposes, take photos inside and outside the home before any damage occurs and save those electronically, too.

  • In case you have to shelter-in-place without power for an extended period, stock up on non-perishable foods and enough drinking water (one gallon per person per day) to sustain everyone in the household (pets, too) for five days.  Don't forget a manual can opener, extra paper towels, and disinfectant wipes.  Click HERE for a checklist of supplies to consider adding to an emergency supply kit.

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