Auburndale, FL (May 21, 2021) – In preparation for hurricane season, which begins on June 1, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing and Polk County Emergency Management have partnered with Publix Super Markets to produce and distribute the “Polk County Public Shelters” maps for 2021. The map is designed to assist both resident and tourist evacuees in finding shelter during an impending storm.
“In the event a hurricane threatens Central Florida, we will work closely with our accommodations partners to determine the supply of available rooms. This information is critical in helping evacuees find lodging,” said Mark Jackson, director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing (PCTSM). PCTSM relays this vital information to Polk County Emergency Management (PCEM) and area lodging facilities. PCEM uses this data to decide when and where to open shelters once area accommodations reach capacity. Evacuees can then be directed to open shelters using the map, which lists shelter locations and directions. The map also provides sources of emergency information, important telephone numbers and a list of recommended items to include in a “7-Day Survival Kit.”
The 2021 map includes 47 shelters, including three “Special Needs Shelters” for residents with medical or physical conditions that require special assistance. Pre-registration for these shelters is highly recommended, by contacting Polk County Emergency Management (PCEM) at (863) 298-7027. Three shelters are designated “Pet Friendly,” with pets being limited to dogs, cats and birds. Specific requirements apply at “Pet Friendly” shelters, so please check those requirements in advance. It should be noted that not every shelter may be opened during a particular storm, so evacuees are advised to confirm that a specific shelter has been activated prior to going there. It is the policy of PCEM to recommend in-place shelter as the primary option during a disaster. Going to a public shelter should be an option of last resort. PCEM recommends you plan to be self-sufficient for at least seven days during and after a disaster. You should anticipate no water, electrical power or utilities for that period of time. In the event you decide you must evacuate to a shelter, have a “7-Day Survival Kit” ready to take with you.
The public shelters maps are available at Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center, located at 101 Adventure Court, Davenport, ½ mile south of I-4 on Highway 27 and at Publix Super Markets in Polk County by the end of May. The map, printed in blue this year, contains updated information for 2021. Area lodging facilities and chambers of commerce will also have maps on hand in the event of a storm. For information about emergency preparedness in Polk County, visit www.polk-county.net/em.