As Hurricane Ian approaches Florida, Polk County government is opening 13 emergency shelters at public schools — five of them in Lakeland — starting at noon on Tuesday. In addition, separate shelters will open for people with special needs and people with pets.

The five Lakeland locations are:

  • Sleepy Hill Elementary School, 2285 Sleepy Hill Road
  • R. Bruce Wagner Elementary School, 5500 Yates Road
  • George Jenkins High School, 6000 Lakeland Highlands Road
  • Highlands Grove Elementary, 4510 Lakeland Highlands Road
  • Kathleen High School, 1100 Red Devil Way

The other Polk locations are:

  • Horizons Elementary School, 1700 Forest Lake Drive, Davenport
  • Chain Of Lakes Elementary School. 7001 Hwy 653, Winter Haven
  • Mulberry Middle School, 500 SE Martin Luther King Jr Ave., Mulberry
  • Spessard Holland Elementary, 2342 E.F. Griffin Road, Bartow
  • Auburndale High School, 1 Bloodhound Trail, Auburndale
  • Citrus Ridge Academy, 1775 Sand Mine Road, Davenport
  • Lake Marion Creek Middle School, 3055 Lake Marion Creek Drive, Poinciana
  • Winter Haven High School, 600 6th St. SE, Winter Haven

Those coming to shelters are asked to bring a seven-day survival kit since shelters will not have the comforts of home. No alcoholic beverages are allowed. Before going, check shelter policies here.

Special needs shelters are opening at 7 a.m. Tuesday under Polk County Emergency Management’s Special Needs Program, which “is designed to provide shelter and/or transportation for residents with medical or physical conditions and/or dependent on medical electrical equipment who require assistance during an emergency,” county spokeswoman Mianne Nelson said. Locations are:

  • McKeel Academy, 1810 W. Parker St., Lakeland
  • Florida Department of Health Specialty Care Unit, 1255 Brice Blvd., Bartow
  • Ridge Community High School, 500 Orchid Drive, Davenport

Pet-friendly shelters open Tuesday at noon at

  • Tenoroc High School, 4905 Saddle Creek Road, Lakeland
  • Lake Region High School. 1995 Thunder Road, Eagle Lake
  • Haines City High School. 2800 Hornet Drive, Haines City

Pet owners must bring shot records for their pets, an airline-approved carrying case or crate and pet food.

A Citizen’s Information Line has been activated by Polk County Emergency Services. It can be reached at (863) 401-2234 (locally) or toll-free 866-661-0228. The line will remain open during business hours throughout the storm.

More information from Polk County Emergency Management can be found on:

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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