Hurricane season began June 1 and lasts until November 30. For many residents who live by themselves, in a mobile home or in unstable housing, the thought of a hurricane making landfall is very frighten ing.
Tommy Carpenter, manager of Lake County Emergency Management Division, has established a network of shelters throughout the county that can be lifesavers during emergencies. Carpenter is quick to point out that hurricanes are not the only emergencies Lake County could potentially face, and residents should be prepared to evacuate their home in cases of wild fires, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, man-made disasters or flooding.
All shelters in Lake County are at schools that have been constructed to withstand hurricane force winds of 160 mph. These buildings are designed to be havens for people during an emergency. In the case of an emergency during which shelters are open, it is important to note that residents seeking shelter must provide for their own personal needs.
Shelters do not provide food, bedding, medicine, snacks or sodas. In addition, all shelters are tobacco free. Security is provided by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Shelters are a place of safety where guns and criminal elements are not allowed.
Lake County has nine designated Emergency Management Division/Red Cross shelters. All residents who plan to use a shelter are encouraged to complete a public-shelter registration form so that the Emergency Management Division will know who may not have reliable transportation. The form can be obtained at www.lakecountyfl.gov or by calling 352-343-9420.
Lake County has four pet-friendly shelters and three special needs shelters. Pets entering a pet-friendly shelter must be crated with proof of an up-to-date rabies vaccination. Pets will be housed in a separate area of the shelter and owners will be given special times to visit their pets to care for them. Pet owners must bring all of their pet’s food and supplies.
The special needs shelters are for those who utilize electrically dependent medical devices. These shelters have redundant energy sources, which can keep medical devices operating in case of a main power outage.
Residents who require a special needs shelter must contact the Emergency Management Division or State Health Department to complete a Special Needs Registry Form.
This form be completed before an emergency so that officials can properly assign the shelters. Those utilizing special needs sheltering must bring all supplies, including medicine and medical devices.
Below are the nine primary emergency shelters for Lake County.
Lost Lake Elementary in Clermont
Round Lake Elementary in Mount Dora
Spring Creek Elementary in Paisley
Treadway Elementary in Leesburg
The Villages Elementary in Lady Lake
Those shelters designated as both special needs and pet friendly are: Leesburg Elementary, Lost Lake Elementary and Umatilla Elementary. The Villages Elementary has been designated as a pet-friendly shelter.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Radio Show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.