OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Residents of Osceola County have several resources available to them while preparing for a storm, riding it out and dealing with the aftermath once it passes.
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When it comes to staying informed, News 6 meteorologists work diligently to pinpoint dangerous weather as it approaches and moves through Central Florida, making sure residents will know when and how their areas will be impacted.
How to stay informed
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You can also watch News 6 and check ClickOrlando.com for all weather updates.
If you live in Osceola County, emergency officials recommend residents stay up to date with any emergency with Alert Osceola, a free reverse 911 and emergency text and email system. Osceola emergency officials use the countywide notification system for major emergencies, boil water notices and other public safety alerts.
County officials also encourage all residents to review their emergency management preparedness booklet. It has a number of resources, including a checklist to help create a family preparedness plan, information on how to create an emergency kit and contact information for residents to use in the wake of a natural disaster. Click here to download the booklet.
If your electronics allow, Osceola County officials encourage residents to utilize social media to stay on top of alerts. You can find the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Because different weather emergencies call for different responses, it’s not guaranteed that all shelters will begin accepting people as soon as there is bad weather. Residents should always check with the county for the latest information before heading to any shelter.
Osceola County officials have not yet released their list of shelters for the 2020 storm season but said -- especially with COVID-19 in the mix this year -- sheltering in place is strongly encouraged. Emergency management officials said unless you live in a mobile or manufactured home, heading to a shelter should be a last resort. Instead, residents are encouraged to stay in a safe location with family or friends if at all possible.
Of course, that recommendation is not a one-size-fits-all, county officials said. Emergency officials said residents with special needs are their top priority and they should arrange to stay at a special needs shelter if that plan works best for their family.
Osceola County will also provide shelter information for those with special needs. Those with special needs must register with the county ahead of a storm. People can register an individual with special needs through the county’s online registry form. You can find a form explaining eligibility here. OCOEM also provides a list of special needs shelters on their website.
OCOEM also works to provide pet-friendly shelters. Emergency management officials clarify pets are allowed to be sheltered at designated areas, but not necessarily sheltered with their owners. Owners must be prepared for their pets to be housed in a different area of the shelter. You can check out a list of pet-friendly shelters here.
It's important to note that not all shelters accept pets, so make sure the one you're planning to visit does before you head there.
In the event of an evacuation order, county officials will alert residents through ALERT Osceola. Users can view the evacuation maps through the notification system, or see them here.
For more information from the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management on how to plan for disasters, visit Osceola.org or call 407-742-9000 to see which shelters may be open once an evacuation is ordered.
For weather updates, tips on how to prepare your home, family and pets ahead of a storm and what to expect during and after one, visit ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane.