County shelters currently have capacity for a total of 9,030


Odell Hamilton of Cotton Plant, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy, left, talks with Jenny Diaz, center, and Sahara Harris, right, both of the Florida Department of Health in Marion County, as they lead him into the Emergency Management special needs Hurricane Ian shelter at West Port High School in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted September 27, 2022 | Staff report/Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

West Port High, located at 3733 SW 80th Ave., will open today as a hurricane shelter at 5 p.m. for those with special needs shelter. According to Paul Bloom, public information officer at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office West Port’s capacity for those with special needs is 590, but the total general population of the shelter to accommodate families of special needs is 4,030.

Tomorrow at noon, additional shelters will open:

Belleview Middle, located at 10500 SE 36th Ave. has capacity for 950.

Dunnellon High, 10055 SW 180th Ave. Road has capacity for 350.

Fort McCoy School, 16160 NE CR 315 has capacity for 300.

Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary, 4397 SW 95th St. has capacity for 800.

North Marion Middle, 2085 W. County Road 329, has capacity for 300.

Vanguard High, the only pet friendly shelter located at 7 NW 28th St., has capacity for 2300. According to a press release from the Marion County Emergency Management, pets brought to the shelter must be caged and “you will be required to provide recent immunization documentation.” Owners will need to supply their pet’s needs and care for them.

Marion County Emergency Management recommends sex offenders or sex predators who need shelter “to first seek shelter with family or friends in a non-residency restricted area.  If that is not an option, they must report to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender /Predator Unit office for shelter.  Please bring bedding, hygiene items, snack food, medicine, or anything else needed.”