Special Needs Registry

In order to meet the special needs of those who need assistance during evacuations and sheltering due to physical and mental disabilities, Florida statutes mandate that each local emergency management agency in the state maintain a registry of disabled persons located within the jurisdiction of the local agency. The registration must identify those persons in need of assistance and plan for resource allocation to meet those identified needs. 

Through Emergency Management's Everbridge system, registrants will be notified by telephone, text, email, or smartphone of a pending evacuation and will be given specific instructions to follow for the Special Needs Shelter when an evacuation is called. Emergency Management will make every attempt to reach out to you via the methods provided when you register. 

Eligible Conditions

Eligible conditions for the Special Needs Shelter include, but are not limited to:

  • Being dependent on supplemental oxygen
  • Limited mobility
  • Needing assistance with daily activities such as feeding, medications, and hygiene
  • Moderate dementia
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Immobile or wheelchair-bound
  • In need of wound care and/or in need of constant supervision

All applications will be reviewed by medical staff from the Florida Department of Health and assessed for program eligibility. Ineligible applicants will be referred to applicable sheltering options, which may include a general population emergency shelter, specialized medical facility, or nursing home.

Have Other Plans In Place

The Special Needs Registry is not a replacement for having an evacuation plan of your own. You should try and seek help or shelter from family, friends, or neighbors in a hurricane or other disaster. Public shelters should be a last resort for those who have no other choice. It is advised that you work on a plan that meets your specific medical needs with your doctor or a healthcare professional.


If you have registered and requested transportation assistance, you will be notified through your specified method of communication in advance of evacuation. You will need to decide whether you will be evacuating and let us know at that time. We will not be able to call you back. If you decide to evacuate, we will direct you to the nearest staging area to your home or make arrangements to pick you up. You must have your belongings and supplies packed and ready to go.  

How Do I Sign Up for the Special Needs Registry?

Monroe County Emergency Management uses Everbridge for the Special Needs Registry for Shelter and Evacuation Assistance. Everbridge is a subscription-based alert system that allows Emergency Management to contact a large number of people through automated phone calls, emails, text messages, and other wireless notifications.

In the event of an emergency, the notification system will make every attempt to contact you through whichever method you provide during the registration process. You will be given important information and directions to follow if you choose to utilize the Special Needs Registry for Shelter and Evacuation Assistance.

In order to stay active, you must reapply through the online portal annually before April 30 of each year. Don’t worry, Emergency Management will send a reminder through the program. Registrants can log into his or her account at any time to make changes. Paper applications are no longer being accepted. This link can be used to register or update a registry. 

If you are unable to fill out the application on your own or if you do not have access to the internet, please seek assistance through your home healthcare provider, primary care physician, case manager, or family and friends. 

Client Privacy Information 
Your privacy and the protection of your personal information are our top priority. To read or print a copy of Emergency Management's Privacy Practices see the following link.

Special Needs Registry Sheltering Information

For a Category 1 storm and below, the Special Needs Shelter will be set up in Monroe County at the Gato Building in Key West and/or the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. For larger category storms with a mandatory evacuation, a Special Needs shelter will be opened on the mainland at Florida International University in Miami.

What to Bring to a Shelter?

Please remember that space and supplies are limited at shelters. Very few comforts will be available. It may take several hours or days before shelters are fully supplied. Please remember to bring all prescription medications and important papers. Take a bath and eat before you leave home. 

Food: If you have the need for special foods (Ensure, etc.) you must bring it with you. High energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix, and other snack foods may be a good idea if you get hungry in between meals. If necessary, bring special dietary foods--such as diabetic, low salt, liquid diet, baby food, and formula. Don’t forget a manual can opener. Bring enough for 7 days. 

Clothing and Bedding: At least one complete change of clothing including footwear. Plan enough for 7 days. A sleeping bag, blanket, and pillow. Rain gear and sturdy shoes. 

Personal Items: Washcloth, small towel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, towelettes, etc. Please bring diapers if necessary. Bring a 7 days’ supply. 

Medications, First-Aid supplies: Medications that are clearly marked with your name, dosage, type of medication, and prescribing physician. You must be able to take all medications by yourself and address any needed wound dressing changes. Bring a 30-day supply of all medications and dressings. 

Important Papers: Identification and valuable papers (insurance documents, etc.), name and address of doctors, name, and address of nearest relatives, and contact information for someone not living in the affected area. 

Pets: Pet-friendly sheltering is available for Special Needs Clients. You must provide a 14-day supply of food, 30 days of pet medications, and a crate or cage. Monroe County will provide separate transportation for all pre-registered pets. 

Miscellaneous: Cellphone and charger, games, cards, toys, battery-powered radios, flashlights (no candles or lanterns), batteries, or other reasonable items you may need are welcome. 

Not Allowed: Alcoholic beverages, or weapons. (Firearms are prohibited in shelters) ** Smoking is not permitted on any of the premises where we will be sheltering** including the outdoors of the facility. Each location is now designated as a “non-smoking” area. These areas include any area of the Florida International University and any Monroe County-owned property or School Board property.

Pets at Shelters

If you have pets in need of sheltering, register them at the same time as yourself. You must read and acknowledge the Emergency Shelter Agreement for Pets prior to registering your pet. Your pet will be transported to a Pet-Friendly Shelter in the vicinity of the Special Needs Shelter. Only ADA recognized Service Animals trained to perform a disability-related task are permitted in the Special Needs Shelter. Emotional Support and Comfort Animals are considered pets and will be transferred to the designated pet shelter if pets are not allowed at the shelter. Consider separate arrangements for your pets with friends and family and only rely on the Pet Shelter as a last resort.