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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

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Special Needs Shelters

Contact Us

  •  904-253-1270



    Mailing Address

    921 N. Davis St. 

    Bldg. A, Suite 251 

    Jacksonville, FL 32209 

Special Needs Shelters (SpNS) are defined as structures that have auxiliary power and are capable of providing safe refuge for people who require assistance with the management of a health condition or supervision of that condition by a health care professional during the time of disaster.

Special Needs Shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. A SpNS is a place to go when there is no other sheltering option. Shelters may be activated during an emergency event to provide mass care for people who cannot safely remain in their home. Special Needs Shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individual's level of health.

The staffing, management and operation of a Special Needs Shelter are the shared responsibility of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, local Emergency Management (EM), County Government, Community Partnerships, Florida Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management.

Eligibility for Special Needs Shelters 

During a disaster, Special Needs Shelters are designed to care for people who do not require hospitalization but have the following needs:
  • Require oxygen therapy
  • Unable to take medications or monitor vital signs without assistance
  • Have chronic conditions requiring assistance with daily life activities
  • Health/medical conditions requiring professional observation or assistance
  • Health conditions that require isolation and cannot be in a public/general shelter
  • People whose care exceeds the basic first aid provided at general population shelters
  • People with impairments or disabilities who are medically stable and do not require medical care
  • People with disabilities are not required to go to a Special Needs Shelter. Some people with disabilities can be safely accommodated in a general population shelter

Special Needs Shelter Registration 

Registration for a Special Needs Shelter is highly recommended to ensure the appropriate placement into a shelter.

To register for Special Needs Shelters or visit the Florida Special Needs State Registry.

Visit the City of Jacksonville Special Medical Needs Registration webpage for additional registration information or call (904) 255-3172.

It is important that those needing transportation or special needs care register with emergency management as soon as the need becomes apparent. Do not wait until an urgent situation such as a hurricane or wildfire is on your doorstep, it may be too late!

Due to limited resources, it is strongly suggested that you pursue evacuation plans with family, friends, neighbors, church organizations, etc. If you live in a manufactured or mobile home park or condo, ask about your association’s disaster plan. If you must evacuate to a special needs shelter, you must have a friend or relative accompany you as your caregiver.

Persons requiring skilled nursing care, life support, etc. should discuss evacuation and sheltering needs with their doctor and health care agency PRIOR TO HURRICANE SEASON. Evacuation to a nursing home or hospital may be necessary.