The Lake County Special Needs Program is designed to assist those persons with special medical, transportation or mobility considerations during disaster situations.
Office of Emergency Management officials, local home-care agencies, the Public Health Unit, American Red Cross and other service organizations make up the "Local Special Needs Inter-Agency Committee". The committee meets throughout the year to plan and coordinate disaster services to the special needs population.
A person with special needs may be any age. Most are identified through their home-care agency. Some contact the Office of Emergency Management directly. An online portal is available for submitting a Special Needs Application, and is the preferred method of registration. If a resident is unable to utilize the online portal, they should call the Office of Emergency Management at 352-742-4850. Once received, the registration is processed for review by the Lake County Health Department. Based on the information provided on the registration, they will then make one of the following assignments in the event of an evacuation:
- Special Needs Shelter – The majority of persons assigned to a Special Needs Shelter are approved for that program because their medical condition requires them to be on required or life-sustaining medical equipment and are electrically dependent, and therefore must evacuate to a shelter where generator backup would be available in case of a loss of electricity. Some persons who are not electrically dependent and are not able to perform their daily routine activities without assistance are also assigned to the Special Needs Shelter.
- Acute Care – If the Department of Health determines that a person's medical condition is beyond the care that can be provided to them in a Special Needs Shelter, they are assigned to an Acute Care Facility such as a hospital which requires them to obtain a pre-admit order from their physician to be used only in the event of a mandatory evacuation.
- Public Shelter – Those persons who live in a mobile or manufactured home and are not electrically dependent, and their medical condition does not require either of the above shelters, are assigned to go to a public shelter and all public shelters are wheelchair accessible.
Since Lake County is an inland county and not in a hurricane evacuation zone, persons who are not electrically dependent, live in a site-built home, and can perform daily routine activities without assistance, are encouraged to shelter-in-place and stay at home or with family or friends who live in a site-built home.
Upon completion of review by the Department of Health, a letter will be issued to the mailing address provided in the registration advising the applicant of the results of the review.
The Special Needs information is considered and treated as a confidential medical document. These records do not fall under public records laws.
For more information about special assistance due to physical limitations, call the Lake County Office of Emergency Management at 352-742-4850.
**Applicants must be full or part-time residents of Lake County.**