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Special Needs

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: