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Polk County Hurricane Guide

With hurricane season officially beginning on June 1st, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners' Emergency Management Division, the City of Bartow and WBF would like to remind citizens of the importance of advance preparation in the event of a storm.


With the current tracking capabilities, no one should be surprised by a hurricane. The time is now to start making preparations in the event a disaster strikes.


Polk County Government Be prepared to be self-sufficient (no electricity, no water, no telephone) for a minimum of 72 hours. Assemble a "72-hour Survival Kit" consisting of items such as non-perishable food items, water (1 gallon per person per day), clothing, medicines, flashlights, batteries, etc. Place your kit in a central location and in containers that are easily transportable in case evacuation is necessary.


pull over to the CyberStation Plan to shelter at home, if possible, and assemble the supplies necessary to protect your home from wind and water damage. If unable to shelter at home, decide where you will sheller and proceed to that location at the earliest available time. All occupants of mobile homes should plan to evacuate. If you do evacuate, take your "72-Hour Survival Kit" with you.


Explore Polk County Public Schools Confirm that the shelter is open. Not all shelters will be open in the initial stages of a disaster. Tune in to local media or call the Citizens Information Line, 863-534-0321, for shelter opening announcements (activated only during an emergency).

  Polk County Shelter and Evacuation Information
Polk County Government It is the policy of Emergency Management to recommend in-place shelter as the primary option during a disaster. For those unable to remain in place, especially those in mobile homes, the remaining choices should be considered in order of preference. Whichever of the following options is selected, it is advised that a 72-hour survival kit be assembled and ready, a course of action be planned, and that the plans be executed as soon as practicable before the disaster hits. The recommended options are:
  • In-place Shelter - plan to remain in residence during the emergency, if possible.
  • Evacuate to Friends or Relative Residence - if forced to evacuate, it is less traumatic for all concerned to be sheltered with familiar people, in more comfortable surroundings.
  • Evacuate the Area - other people leaving this area or areas in the projected path of the storm will also be on the road; leave at least 48-72 hours before the storm is expected to strike.
  • Evacuate to the Hotel/Motel - make arrangements early as rooms will fill quickly with other evacuees.
  • Evacuate to a Public Shelter - please see the Public Shelter policy. To obtain a Polk County Public Shelter Map, visit Polk County Public Library or Publix Super Market near you.
Not all public shelters are automatically activated for each emergency. They are opened as needed and are not pre-assigned by geographic area. During an emergency please monitor Polk County Government Television, other local television and radio stations for open shelter information. Have your 72-hour survival kit ready to take with you. Weapons and alcoholic beverages are not allowed at any public shelter.

Download the 2017 Hurricane Shelter Map.

Polk County has three pet-friendly shelters that allow residents who own pets to shelter with their pets. Pre-registration is strongly suggested to ensure you have a spot at the shelter and some limitations apply. ONLY dogs, cats and birds and their owners will be allowed to shelter in Polkís pet-friendly shelters. Download our ĎDonít Forget Petsí flyer for complete information including:
  Polk County Special Needs Shelters
Polk County Government A special needs shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting. Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should pre-register with Emergency Management. Registration information is available at the bottom of this page. A special needs shelter is a temporary emergency facility capable of providing care to residents whose medical condition may require the use of electrical equipment, oxygen, dialysis, or individuals with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions who may require assistance from medical professionals. Although special needs shelters provide more care than a general shelter, they do not provide the level of care found in a medical facility.

Residents with special needs, the elderly, and those without transportation require extra attention in order to stay safe during a disaster. Polk County has programs in place to help these residents prepare and find safe shelter.

A special needs shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting. Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should pre-register with Emergency Management. A special needs shelter is a temporary emergency facility capable of providing care to residents whose medical condition may require the use of electrical equipment, oxygen, dialysis, or individuals with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions who may require assistance from medical professionals. Although special needs shelters provide more care than a general shelter, they do not provide the level of care found in a medical facility.

If you need a ride to a shelter, regardless of special need status, arrangements will be made with Polk County Transit Services to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter. If you are a special needs client, you will be asked about your transportation plans.

Polk residents are eligible at any age, who meet the any following conditions:
  • Activities of daily living are restricted by immobility that their basic needs must be met by others.
  • Needs assistance with the administration of their medications.
  • Requires dressing changes because of moderate/copious drainage (ulcers, fistulas)
  • Needs assistance with ostomy management, indwelling catheters (n/g tube, colostomy bags, etc.).
  • Requires daily assessment of medical condition by professional nursing personnel. (cardiac, diabetic).
  • Cardiac or respiratory conditions requiring electrical medical equipment - oxygen 3 liters or less, apnea monitors, nebulizers etc.
  • All others deemed necessary by triage nurse.
Persons who require evaluation and possible health care facility placement:
  • Persons in sudden acute medical or emergency condition.
  • Oxygen dependent persons requiring oxygen 4 liter flow and higher.
  • Bedridden persons and persons requiring a hospital type bed who, for medical reasons, cannot use cots for emergency bedding, and persons requiring Hoyer lift transfers.
  • Persons require continuous air conditioning for medical reasons.
  • Persons do not possess functional ambulation capability.
  • High risk pregnancy within four weeks of estimated date of delivery or in active labor. Normal pregnancy should get instructions from their obstetrician.
To register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation, select one of the following options:
  • Call the Polk County Emergency Management Special Needs Program at (863) 298-7027
  • Call your home health care provider
  • Complete an registration form and fax or mail to:
       (863) 298-7172
       Polk County Emergency Management
       Special Need Shelter Registration
       1890 Jim Keene Blvd.
       Winter Haven, FL 33880
Special Needs Registration Form

During a hurricane, WBF will implement its own in-house hurricane plan. Part of this plan involves the monumental job of keeping the station on the air. WBF has an on-site 15,000 watt electrical back-up generator, powered by propane, with a runtime of 60 hours per tank. Our studio and transmitter site have been designed for hurricane force winds. We will do everything possible to maintain our on-air service.