Officials urge families with special needs, pets to prepare as Irma looms

Officials say have all medications, documents, necessary pet supplies together

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the potential for severe weather from Hurricane Irma looms, preparations are needed for those with special needs and pets.

Officials are urging people Tuesday to have all necessary documents and medications in place together and ready to go in case an evacuation is needed and no time gets wasted.

Families with members who have special needs must register with the city. It can be done online and the information must be submitted immediately.

For people with special needs (medically dependent on electricity or oxygen or need basic assistance from medical professionals), the time is now to plan.

When people register, they need to make sure they list an active contact number and whether they need transportation. They also need to list any prescription medications they take.

One registration is needed for everyone who requires assistance. Most importantly, a new registration form is needed every year.

Flagler County

Flagler County officials are also encouraging residents to sign up for weather warning notifications and for those requiring additional assistance to apply for the special needs registry. 

individuals who should register for special needs evacuation sheltering are people who require assistance with daily living or who have medical conditions that prevent or hinder their ability to care for themselves. 

Residents with computer access can register for either or both online at

The direct link for the CodeRED weather notifications is: The direct link for special needs is, where a printable application form is available as well as a link to the Florida Special Needs Registry,


People also need to begin preparing pets in case an evacuation is needed.

Pet-friendly shelters allow dogs, cats, rodents like hamsters and gerbils, birds and rabbits. All pets brought to shelters must have proof of vaccination and registration, be properly crated or caged, and be maintained by their owners.

Owners also must provide all necessary supplies for their pets.

Aside from making sure to have all the necessary food and medications to last at least a few days after a storm, Dr. Susan Shelton with St Francis Animal Hospital said people staying with family and friends need to integrate their pets well. It’s an issue she said she saw a lot of post-Hurricane Matthew.

“Pets don't do well with that. So, just because you are very easy to integrate with your friends and family, their pets and your pets, not so much,” Shelton said. “In the days after Matthew, I was treating all these bite wounds because the animals were not getting along.”

Shelton said it’s best to keep the pets separated if you don’t know whether or not they will get along.