Polk County, Publix partner to publicize storm shelters

To batten down the proverbial hatches, two Polk County agencies recently partnered with Publix Super Markets to distribute “Polk County Public Shelters” maps for providing proactive direction in case of severe storms during hurricane season.

With hurricane season officially beginning June 1 in Florida, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing and Polk County Emergency Management (PCEM) co-sponsored the preventive publication in order to prepare residents and tourists alike should severe weather overtake them suddenly.

“In the event a hurricane threatens central Florida, we will work closely with our accommodations partners to determine the supply of available accommodations,” Mark Jackson, director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing (PCTSM), said. “This information is critical in helping evacuees find available lodging. We want our guests to have a safe and pleasant experience, in spite of the circumstances.”

PCTSM typically relays data to PCEM and area shelters. PCEM makes the determination of when and where to open shelter facilities; evacuees can then use the map to navigate to the nearest safe place.

Published annually, the 2016 version lists 44 shelters including three designated for special needs and three more specified as pet-friendly. The maps will be available at Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center and Publix stores throughout Polk County.

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