Shelters opening in Lee, Manatee, Highlands counties; residents urged not to put out Ian debris

Shelters are opening today in Lee, Manatee and Highlands counties in advance of Tropical Storm Nicole’s landfall later this week.

While no evacuation orders are in place for Tropical Storm Nicole for Lee County there have been two general population shelters opened: North Fort Myers Rec Center and Estero Rec Center.

Water and MRE’s will be provided and those wishing to come are urged to bring sheltering items with you. Free transit on LeeTran is available to shelters.

Lee County also warned residents to not place additional Hurricane Ian debris on the curb.

In Highland County the general population shelter will open at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Fred Wild Elementary School, 3550 Youth Care Lane in Sebring.

A special needs shelter will open at noon Wednesday at the health department, 7205 S. George Blvd., in Sebring. Registration for this shelter will be open until 11 a.m. Wednesday. REGISTRATION FOR THE SPECIAL NEEDS SHELTER WILL BE OPEN UNTIL 11 A.M. TODAY.

Online registration can be made at

Manatee County opened a “Safe Haven” shelter at Freedom Elementary, 9515 FL-64, Bradenton, 34212 Wednesday.

The pet-friendly shelter is for residents evacuating their homes voluntarily should they feel their homes could be compromised due to damage from Hurricane Ian and for residents of mobile or manufactured homes.

Manatee County Emergency Management is monitoring Nicole and is working with the School District of Manatee County to determine school closures for Thursday. A decision about whether to close will come later Wednesday.

What to bring to a shelter:

In addition to emergency supplies (e.g. food, water, medicine, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit), the following are recommended items to bring with you if you must evacuate to a shelter:

  • Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags or air mattresses
  • Extra clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, hearing aids (and batteries), etc.
  • Personal toiletries/towels
  • Medications
  • Baby items, diapers, formula and comfort items
  • Folding chairs, lawn chairs or cots Personal hygiene items (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
  • Quiet games, books, playing cards and favorite toys for children
  • Important papers and irreplaceable keepsakes (e.g. Driver’s License, special medical information, insurance policies and property inventories, photographs)

Pet Shelter Requirements Pet sheltering requirements and rules are important during disaster situations. Your cooperation in making a pet-friendly shelter environment enjoyable is appreciated by following these requirements:

  • Pet(s) must arrive with a carrier or cage. Cages will not be available on site.
  • Pet(s) must remain in carrier (except at scheduled exercise times).
  • Owners must provide pet food and other pet supplies, as needed.
  • Owners must provide certification that pet(s) are current with rabies vaccination.
  • Owners will not permit other shelter occupants to handle or approach pet(s).
  • Owners are responsible for the care, feeding and handling of their own pet(s).

Pet Survival Kit for Pet-Friendly Shelters

  • Proper ID collar and rabies license tag
  • Carrier or cage
  • Water and food bowls
  • Medications
  • Food supply to last about three days
  • Special care instructions
  • Newspapers/plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Toys and comfort items
  • Muzzles, if necessary
  • First aid supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • Proper ID on all belongings

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WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.