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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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General & Special Needs Shelter

Contact Us

  •  850-316-2806



    Mailing Address

    Fairfield Service Center, 1295 West Fairfield Drive, Pensacola, FL, 32501 



General Shelters
General Population Shelters should be considered as the first place of sheltering. General shelters serve as essential havens during times of crisis, providing refuge and support to individuals and families facing emergencies. These facilities are equipped to accommodate a wide range of needs, offering temporary lodging and basis amenities to those displaced by disasters. General shelters are staffed by dedicated volunteers and professionals who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of their occupants. They serve as a lifeline for people in dire circumstances, offering a sense of stability and a stepping stone towards recovery. Find a General Population Shelter in your area.  
Special Needs Shelter Information
A Special Needs Shelter (SpNS)is a shelter of last resort for people who need more medical supervision than a general population shelter can provide due to special medical needs, but do not require hospitalization. A special needs shelter is a crucial facility designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals with specific requirements during emergencies or crisis. These shelters are equipped with specialized resources and trained personnel to cater to a range of unique needs, such as mobility challenges, medical conditions, sensory sensitivities, and cognitive differences. A person with special needs is someone who during an evacuation, either mandatory or voluntary, will require assistance that exceeds the basic level of care provided at the general population shelter, but will not require the level of skilled medical care provided at institutional facilities. Before a disaster, it is recommended that people with special needs speak with their doctor about how to handle their medical needs in case of evacuation. They should consider whether it is better to leave the area or go to a suitable facility like a general or special needs shelter for care. This may include having a month’s supply of their prescriptions readily available, arranging for special medical equipment, and/or potential admittance to a licensed healthcare facility.    

Most individuals who are not electrical or oxygen dependent are suitable for general population shelters. Escambia County has pre-identified general population shelters for those with no other options should they not meet the minimum medical qualifications for the SpNS.  These shelters provide no medical support or care other than basic first aid.  Individuals may visit the Escambia County Evacuation Shelter List to see the pre-identified list of disaster shelters.  They should listen to local news information for the announcements as to which shelters will be opened and when.  Not all shelters will be opened in every disaster situation. Please see the FDOH-Escambia Levels of Care for the Special Needs Shelter document for medical conditions that are appropriate for a General Population Shelter.   

For those individuals requiring additional medical care, the special needs shelter offers services to the community on a first-come, first-served basis.  During a disaster, decisions on admittance to the SpNS are made upon arriving at the shelter. To assist you in determining your medical condition eligibility for admittance to the SpNS, download the FDOH-Escambia Levels of Care Criteria. In addition, each client should be accompanied by a caregiver and the caregiver must remain with the client the entire time at the special needs shelter. Caregivers can be relatives, household members, guardians, friends, neighbors, and volunteers. Medical assessments are NOT conducted at the time of pre-registration.  If you need sheltering but do not reach the level of care provided at a SpNS, then the closest general population shelter to your location should be considered. If you exceed the level of care that can be provided at the SpNS, then please discuss with your physician the appropriate shelter facility for you to attend.  Any special dietary needs, medications, and medical supplies, along with any specialty bedding/bed must also accompany you to the special needs shelter. Cots are available for the patient as they are limited in supply and space.    

Should you need transportation assistance evacuating to the public shelters, you may call Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) bus services when community evacuation orders are issued and at the time you are ready to evacuate to the shelter.  When you are ready for pick-up, call ECAT and alert them that you are ready for pick-up and they will include your address in their pick-up route.  You can reach their office at 850-595-3228.   


Special Needs Shelter

Success Academy

(Formerly West Florida Technical High School)

Buildings 9, 25 and 26
7045 Wymart Road
Pensacola, FL 32526

Special Needs Registry 

The Florida Division of Emergency Management operates the Florida Special Needs Registry. Those who have special medical needs are asked to pre-register with the Escambia Public Safety Department online at the Florida Special Needs Online Registry

Registrants will be required to update/review their registration each year by the anniversary of their registration to remain on the registry and to revalidate their eligibility and transportation needs. Once it has been determined that the special needs shelter will open, spaces may fill quickly. The special needs shelter does not accept reservations nor does the registry save shelter spaces for individuals. Each person will be assessed by a medical professional upon arrival, using the Escambia County Level of Care Criteria (28 KB; pdf), to determine if they have medical conditions that qualify them for special needs sheltering. 

Items to Take to any Public Shelter 

If you go to a public shelter, you will need to take the following items to support you and your family for four days:

  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
  • Toiletries and personal items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags and pillows
  • ID and any important papers
  • Games, toys or books for children
  • Books for adults
  • Special items for infants or elderly family members
  • Any special dietary needs & non-perishable foods for snacks
  • Battery-operated radio, flashlights and plenty of spare batteries
  • Prescription medications or any over-the-counter medications you normally take 
*It is recommended to speak with a physician on specific items to take to a public shelter*

 For more information go to