LABELLE — The Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties, in cooperation with Emergency Management and several local community partners, conducted a drill/exercise on May 17, 2022, to introduce the new Special Needs Shelter location at 475 E Cowboy Way in LaBelle and determine activation expectations.
The “2022 Hope Connections Special Needs Shelter Drill” provided participants the opportunity to practice and evaluate emergency response to the functionality of providing shelter and related services to persons requiring sheltering assistance due to physical impairment, mental impairment, cognitive impairment, or sensory disabilities.
“This was a great opportunity for staff to gain more knowledge about the processes of setting up and operating a Special Needs Shelter in a new location. We are thankful for the great working relationship with our partnering agencies” said Jennifer Hood, Health Officer and Administrator for the Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties.
“We are excited to offer a Special Needs Shelter location in Hendry County and this drill/exercise allowed us to learn together to ensure that we are better prepared prior to the start of hurricane season. As a reminder, shelters are always intended as a “last resort. The community is encouraged to seek shelter with family or friends first before considering a shelter” said Robert Pastula, director of Emergency Management for Hendry County.
The exercise occurred on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, between 1 and 4:30pm, at the LaBelle Hope Connections building with participants from:
• Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties,
• Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County,
• Florida Department of Health in Collier County,
• Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County,
• Florida Department of Health – Division of Emergency Preparedness and Community Support,
• Florida Division of Emergency Management – Region 6 Recovery,
• Hendry County Emergency Management,
• Hendry County Emergency Medical Services, and
• Collier County Emergency Management.
A Special Needs Shelter (SpNS) is for “someone who during periods of evacuation or emergency, requires sheltering assistance, due to physical impairment, mental impairment, cognitive impairment or sensory disabilities.” Chapter 64-3, Florida Administrative Code. Special Needs Shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. Shelters may be activated during an emergency event to provide mass care for people who cannot safely remain in their home.
Special Needs Shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individual’s level of health. 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 a SpNS.