If you are a resident of the State of Florida, you are well aware of the potential for bad weather. The majority of the year Floridians enjoy sunny skies and miles and miles of beautiful coastline. Occasionally, however, hurricane season brings destructive storms to the Sunshine State. If you, or someone you know, have special needs, need medical monitoring, and do not have someone to provide shelter for you in the event of the need to evacuate during one of these storms, it is imperative that you register with the State of Florida for assistance. Once registered, you will have a slot reserved for you in a shelter staffed by the Florida Department of Health. These shelters are not the same as the Red Cross shelters that are typically open to anyone who needs assistance during a storm. The Department of Health shelters are specifically for people with special needs. State officials urge anyone who might qualify to register now, even if you registered in years past.
Who Needs to Register
According to state officials, people who should register include:
- People who need daily medical assistance and monitoring, who do not live in a care community and who cannot shelter with family or friends.
- Anyone without special medical needs who needs transportation to a Red Cross shelter.
NOTE: Individuals who need assistance may also go to a regular Red Cross shelter if accompanied by a caregiver.
People who should not register:
- Individuals in assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities. They will be cared for by the facility.
State officials are trying to impress upon people the importance of registering by providing the following reasons:
- Medical staff will be allocated according to the number of people who register and their medical needs.
- People who are registered and who need transportation will be added to transportation schedules.
- People who are pre-registered will be notified by phone, sometimes by a recording, that they are being evacuated and that the shelter is opening.
If you live in an evacuation area, you can also sign up for transportation to a Red Cross or medical needs shelter.
How to Register
The State reminds everyone that even if you registered last year, you must register again this year. In fact, you need to register each and every year that assistance is required because emergency management coordinators do not keep registrations. Follow the instructions below for residents of Indian River County. You should be able to register using the online forms; however, if you are having difficulty, try using a different browser such as Chrome or Internet Explorer.
Indian River County Registration Procedures
Form: www.irces.com. Click on “Special Needs Shelter Application/Information” under “Quick Links.” To sign up for transportation to a regular shelter, click on “Shelter Transportation Request” in the left column. For the Special Needs Shelter registration, click on “Special Needs Program Application” in the center of the page. The forms can be filled out and submitted online in some web browsers. Or print, complete and mail to IRC Dept. of Emergency Services (ATTN: SNS), 4225 43rd Ave., Vero Beach, FL 32967. For those who prefer a paper copy, call the Department of Emergency Services at 772-567-2154 to have a form mailed to you. People with dementia or who need assistance must have a caregiver with them at the shelter. Special needs registrants who own pets should mark the “Pet owners” box to be contacted about sheltering your pet. Service animals are welcome in all shelters.
Contact Vero Beach Special Needs Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions or concerns regarding special needs planning, contact the experienced Vero Beach special needs planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.