Skip to search box Skip to main content
Text Only Version

Special Needs Shelters

Click on the Topics above to learn more about Shelters in Suffolk County.

Picture of an assistance dog

 What is a Functional Needs Shelter?

A Functional Needs Shelter provides more care and supervision than a general shelter to help meet your needs during an evacuation. To the extent possible under emergency conditions, a Functional Needs Shelter will provide a safe sheltering environment and basic assistance to maintain your level of health.

Please note Service animals are allowed. Their care is the responsibility of the owner.

 What is a Special Needs Shelter?

Special Needs Shelters are for people who require skilled medical assistance and support services.

 Who should go to a Functional Needs Shelter or Special Needs Shelter?

There are thousands of Suffolk County residents with permanent or temporary disabilities who live independently in their own homes.  These people often utilize specialty equipment and supplies, medications, and periodic assistance from service or care providers on a daily basis.  In an emergency situation that requires evacuation from home, some people with functional or medical needs may be left without these supports that they rely on. Special Needs and Functional Needs Shelters are designed to shelter these people.

 Should I Pre Register for a Functional Needs or Special Needs Shelter ?

The answer is “Yes” if you may need any of the following:

  • Assistance with medication
  • Observation by a health professional
  • Electricity for life supporting medical equipment
  • Basic Nursing care
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Assistance to evacuate
 Don’t wait until there is an emergency!

Pre-registering will ensure that you have a back-up plan. If you can stay with family or friends or at a hotel out of the emergency area, you should. If you have no other sheltering option, pre-register and be prepared to go to the Functional Needs Shelter or Special Needs Shelter. To Pre-register for a Functional Needs or Special Needs Shelter please register in the Suffolk County Emergency Preparedness Registry. Suffolk County Emergency Preparedness Registry emblem, Click here to go to the Emergency Preparedness Registry web site

Please bring medical supplies and current medications to support your medical needs. Your Care Giver is also welcome.


 What I Should Expect?

A Functional Needs Shelter or Special Needs Shelter do not provide the comfort or convenience of a home or hotel, nor does it provide the level of care found in a medical facility. A shelter may be in a school or other public facility. It may be crowded, noisy and boring.

You can expect the following:

  • Food and water. If you want or need special food, you must bring it with you. Food must be non-perishable.
  • Basic medical assistance and monitoring. Complex medical equipment or care is not available.
  • An area for you and your caregiver to sleep.
  • Back-up electricity for light and essential medical equipment.
 Am I Eligible?

The answer is “You may be” if:

  • You have special medical needs but do not require hospitalization.
  • You cannot be accommodated in a regular shelter.
  • You need assistance with basic everyday tasks.
  • You have a chronic condition that requires assistance.
 When will Functional Needs and Special Needs Shelters be utilized?

The Functional Needs and Special Needs Shelters capabilities will only be used in very large-scale emergencies.  As community shelters open during an emergency, Suffolk County will carefully assess the needs at these shelters.  If it is decided between the American Red Cross community shelters and Suffolk County Emergency Management Officials that the Functional or Special Needs Shelters are necessary, then these Shelters will be mobilized.

 What care is available in a Functional Needs and Special Needs Emergency Shelter?


Individuals and/or their caregivers must assume responsibility for managing their own medical care and any procedures they have been managing in the home setting. The Functional Needs or Special Needs Shelter nurse will provide supervision and additional assistance only if needed.


Individuals with Functional Needs and Special Needs or their caregivers must assume responsibility for administering routine medications, as in the home setting. The Functional Needs Shelter nurse may assist the individual if needed or administer medications as per protocol. If a person’s supply of medication is completely consumed during the course of a disaster, the on-call physician may prescribe a new supply.


Individuals with Functional Needs or their caregiver must assume responsibility for managing oxygen and equipment. Oxygen supply representatives or respiratory therapist, respiratory technician, EMT or experienced RN or LPN who is present will assist as needed.

 What should I bring to a Functional Needs Emergency Shelter?

Individuals with Functional Needs are instructed to bring their caregiver (who will remain with them) and all of their own supplies.

Certain supplies and equipment will be available in limited supply at the shelter.

To the extent possible, the shelter will work with special dietary needs. Because it may be difficult to accommodate all needs, anyone planning to stay at a shelter who has special dietary needs should bring a supply of their own food.

Individuals utilizing oxygen concentrators are encouraged to bring their equipment with them for use while electrical power is available. Whenever possible, concentrator patients should have battery backup and provide a small tank in case of power failure or switch to portable oxygen tanks for the duration of the shelter period.


 Can you assist me with arranging transportation to the functional needs or special needs shelter?

Yes we will refer you to transportation resources based on mobility. We highly recommend that you register in our Joint Emergency Evacuation Program and Special Needs Registry so we can plan to provide for your assistance. Click here to learn about the Suffolk County Emergency Preparedness Registry.

 If I have a pet can I bring them to a Functional Needs or Special Needs Shelter?

Only service animals will be allowed at Functional Needs or Special Needs Shelter. Please make other arrangements for your pets. Click here to learn about Pet Friendly Shelters in Suffolk County.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901