What you need to know about hurricane shelters.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
Volusia County Government and Volusia County Schools join forces amid natural disasters to provide shelters for people who do not evacuate or choose to ride out the storm in their homes. The Emergency Management Division wants to share information regarding emergency shelters and what residents should expect.
“Shelters do not provide luxury accommodations and should be used only as a last resort,“ stressed Jim Judge, Interim Director of Emergency Management. “The best place to shelter is outside the evacuation area, in a hotel, or a safe and secure structure with family and friends.”
Evacuees may need to stay at a shelter for several days, and since space is limited, should only bring the following:
- Folding lounge chair, air mattress, or cot along with bedding, pillow, and blanket
- Special dietary food, snacks, and comfort food
- Extra clothing
- Medications and medical supplies
- Oxygen supplies
- Toiletry items
- Earbuds to listen to music
- A charger for your phone and laptop
- Flashlight and batteries
- Diapers, infant and elderly/disabled necessities
- Time occupiers such as books, magazines, games, or cards
- Important papers, credit cards, cash, and identification
“You might want to pack your supplies in a rolling suitcase for ease of transport and organization,” Judge suggested.
County staff recommends that evacuees eat a meal before arriving, even though food will be provided at shelters, and refrain from bringing alcohol, smoking materials, vaping devices, valuables, weapons, and heavy or multiple pieces of luggage. Those with pets and service animals are encouraged to use a pet-friendly shelter.
Free transportation is offered to residents who cannot make it on their own, through Votran and Volusia County Schools to all public shelters. During a declared emergency evacuation order, all Votran bus stops are considered evacuation assembly points.
Bus space will be limited, and carry-on items should include a pillow, blanket, and a carry-on bag no larger than 22” x 16” x 8”. If special needs evacuees cannot reach a bus stop, they must call Votran at (386) 322-5100 to arrange transportation.
If a shelter is needed, Volusia County provides two types of emergency shelters, General Population and Special Needs Shelters. General population shelters have the necessities for survival, including food, water, and a warm place to sleep. However, shelters will not be able to provide the same level of convenience as a hotel, or the home of a friend or relative, as they offer little privacy and are often crowded, noisy and boring. Special needs shelters are staffed by health care professionals who will be available to help during evacuations. Evacuees should be accompanied by one, and only one, caregiver. These shelters are not for isolation patients or people who need 24-hour dedicated care, a hospital bed, ventilator, or other complex care. These individuals should discuss other shelter arrangements with their caregiver, physician, or home health service provider.
Elderly, physically, mentally, or sensory disabled, visually, or hearing-impaired residents and those who need supplemental oxygen should register for the special needs shelters program with Volusia County Emergency Management.
“Do not wait until a storm is approaching because our phones will be ringing off the hook,” Judge said. “People with special needs should register now.”
Special needs evacuees with pets should contact Volusia County Animal Services at (386) 248-1790 to discuss assistance for sheltering pets, while residents can obtain a special needs shelter registration form by calling (386) 258-4088 or downloading it at http://www.volusia.org/core/fileparse.php/4360/urlt/PSNreg.pdf.
Keep in mind that some shelters will fill up quickly, and some might not be open, depending on the need. Residents should check availability by calling the Citizens Information Center at (866) 345-0345.
The following fifteen Volusia County locations are potential shelters for 2022 and can provide refuge for up to 5,000 people. If needed, additional shelters will be opened at other facilities.
General population, no pets
- Ormond Beach Middle School, 151 Domicilio Ave., Ormond Beach
- Mainland High School, 1255 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach
- Sweetwater Elementary School, 5800 Victoria Gardens, Port Orange
- New Smyrna Beach High School, 1015 10th St., New Smyrna Beach
- T. Dewitt Taylor Middle-High School, 100 E. Washington Ave., Pierson
- Citrus Grove Elementary School, 729 Hazen Road, DeLand
- DeLand High School, 800 Hill Ave., DeLand
- University High School, 1000 W. Rhode Island Ave., Orange City
People and pets
- Volusia County Fairgrounds, 3150 E. State Road 44, DeLand
Special needs, pet friendly
- Hinson Middle School, 1860 N. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach
- Creekside Middle School, 6801 Airport Road, Port Orange
- Atlantic High School, 1250 Reed Canal Road, Port Orange
- Freedom Elementary School, 1395 S. Blue Lake Ave., DeLand
- Galaxy Middle School, 2400 Eustace Ave., Deltona
- Heritage Middle School, 1001 Parnell Court, Deltona
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