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By Audrey Stasko, Public Information Officer

June 30, 2019

As we head into the second month of Hurricane Season, the Florida Department of Health in Citrus County (DOH-Citrus) and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Division are encouraging residents to register now for the Emergency Management’s Special Needs Program by visiting

The Special Needs Program identifies a person’s disability, plus the special equipment or specific assistance needed during an evacuation. This includes transportation to a family member’s or friend’s house (within the county) or to the Special Needs Shelter, if you have no other sheltering option.

If you are unable to stay with family, friends or at a hotel out of the emergency area, pre-registering for the Special Needs Shelter will ensure you have a back-up plan.

The Special Needs Shelter, located at Forest Ridge Elementary School, 2927 N. Forest Ridge Blvd., Hernando, FL 34442, is designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. If a person is medically stable but needs help with basic tasks or uses an electronic medical device and has no other evacuation options, they should pre-register for the Special Needs Shelter by filling out the Voluntary Special Needs Program Registration.

What to expect at a Special Needs Shelter?

A Special Needs Shelter does not provide the comfort or convenience of a home or hotel, nor does it provide the level of care found in a medical facility. A Special Needs Shelter is typically crowded and noisy; however, you can expect the following:

  • Food and water. If you want special food or snacks or have dietary restrictions, you must bring it with you. Food must be non-perishable.
  • Basic medical assistance and monitoring. Complex medical equipment or care is not available in the Special Needs Shelter.
  • An area for you and your caregiver to sleep.
  • Back-up electricity for light and essential medical equipment.

Special Needs Shelter registrants are allowed to bring their pets to the Special Needs Shelter; however, the primary care for the pet must rest with the resident or caregiver.

For more information or assistance, call the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Division at 352-249-2705 or the Florida Department of Health in Citrus County at 352-527-0068.

For more information about DOH-Citrus, go to or follow us on Twitter at @FLHealthCitrus.