In preparation for hurricane season, which began Sunday, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing and Polk County Emergency Management and Publix Super Markets got together to produce and distribute the “Polk County Public Shelters” map for 2014. This annual 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 accommodations. This information is critical in helping evacuees find available lodging. We want our guests to have a safe and pleasant experience, in spite of the circumstances,” said Mark Jackson, director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing. PCTSM relays this vital information to Polk County Emergency Management 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 “Polk County Public Shelters” map, which lists shelter locations on one side and directions to those shelters on the other. The map also provides sources of emergency information, important telephone numbers and a list of recommended items to include in a “3-Day Survival Kit.”
The 2014 map includes 43 shelters, three of which are designated as “Special Needs Shelters,” for residents with medical or physical conditions that would require special assistance during an emergency. Preregistration is recommended, by contacting Polk County Emergency Management at 863-298-7027. Three additional shelters have been designated as “pet-friendly,” with pets being limited to dogs, cats and birds only. Specific requirements apply at “Pet Friendly” shelters, so it is advised to 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.
The public shelters maps are available at: Polk County’s official visitor information center, Polk Outpost 27 (101 Adventure Court, Davenport located half-mile south of Interstate 4 on U.S. 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 2014. Residents are advised to discard older maps of different colors. Area lodging facilities and chambers of commerce have also received a supply of maps to keep on hand for distribution to evacuees in the event of a storm.
The maps will also be available at Polk County’s Emergency Preparedness “Be Ready Night” at the Lakeland Flying Tigers game on Wednesday, June 11, at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. For information about “Be Ready Night,” visit www.polk-county.net/HurricaneExpo.
A PDF copy of the shelters map is available online at www.polk-county.net. Click on the “Residents” tab at the top of the home page, scroll down to “Emergency Information,” click on “Emergency Shelters” and scroll to “Download the list of Emergency Public Shelters (PDF).”