Before Event During Event After Event Resources

Before the Event

(Also See Special Needs Residents and Transportation)

Many residents are able to safely shelter at home in the event of a hurricane or other emergency. However, some residents are required to evacuate their homes. To the extent possible, shelters provide residents with a safe place to stay and basic assistance to help them get through the emergency.

Evacuation and Shelter Information: List of Red Cross General Population Shelters and a map with their locations.

When Shelters Open

The schedule for opening shelters will be announced on local radio and television stations. Residents and tourists are advised to monitor broadcast stations for shelter openings. Red Cross General Population Shelters are usually available four hours after an evacuation order is issued.

Shelter Services

A Red Cross shelter is a place of refuge for residents and tourists whose homes or hotels are in the evacuation zone or are deemed unsafe, such as a mobile home.

  • A shelter will not provide the comforts of a hotel or motel.
  • The shelter is not a medical shelter; only basic first aid will be available.
  • The Red Cross does not accept responsibility for storing valuable personal property.
  • Parents are required to be in control of their children at all times.
  • Evacuees needing medical assistance of personal attendants can not be left unattended.
  • Shelters are equipped with generators, but they may or may not be air-conditioned. If electrical power is interrupted, portable generators will not be able to keep air conditioners running.
What to Bring

To make your stay at the shelter more comfortable, evacuees should bring:

  • personal hygiene items 
  • beddings such as cots, air mattresses, blankets and pillows for their own use (none will be provided)
  • non-perishable snacks and personal meals
  • extra change of clothing
  • personal items (medications, eyeglasses, hearing aid, flashlights, toothbrushes, battery-operated radio, special diet foods, if appropriate)
  • baby supplies: ample amounts of baby food, formula, juice, diapers and wipes, and a stroller, portable crib or play pen
  • driver's license, other identification
  • cash, traveler's checks
  • important documents
Before Leaving Your Home:
  • Have a good meal.
  • Turn off electricity at the fuse or breaker box (to prevent possible fire).
  • Turn off water at the outside line.
  • Turn off gas for gas water heaters (to prevent possible fire).
What NOT to Bring

The following are not permitted in the shelter:

  • Pets of any type are not allowed in Red Cross shelters, except for service animals. A service animal is defined as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. However, a Pet Friendly Shelter is available for residents owning pets who are living in evacuation areas or mobile homes. Pre-registration is required, and owners are expected to shelter with their pets and care for them. This is not a General Population Shelter. 
  • Firearms or explosive devices
  • Intoxicating or alcoholic beverages
  • Illegal drugs
How to Check In

All evacuees must register at the time they enter the shelter. The head of the family may register for all.

Updated March 2013