Emergency Shelter Management Plan
This manual is directed to principals and site administrators of schools/sites that are designated shelters. This manual is divided into sections, each of which will help the shelter manager understand the scope of the district‘s responsibilities, how to prepare
the school for use as a shelter, how to open and operate a shelter and, finally, how to close a shelter.
II. Long Term Planning for Shelter Operations
III. Short Term Planning for Shelter Operations
IV. Shelter Operations
V. Shelter Deactivation
VI. Special Needs Shelters/Issues
VII. Media In the Shelter
VIII. Shelter Activation Flowchart
IX. Sample Responsibilities Chart
X. Sample Assignment List
XI. Sample Checklist for Pre-Shelter Opening
XII. Shelter Registration Form
Appendix A: Agreement between XXXX County & The School Board
Appendix B: Shelter Resident Information Sheet
Appendix C: Suggested Registration Area
Appendix D: Definitions
In the case of an approaching hurricane, or some other major emergency event affecting our community, the XXXX County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) will convene the Disaster Advisory Committee. This Committee (which includes the Superintendent or his designee) will discuss what recommendations they will make, as a body, to the County Administrator. The County Administrator will then make a recommendation for a particular course of action to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The BCC will then recommend a proper course of action; such action may include various levels of evacuation in order to address the local emergency. Depending on the orders of the BCC, XXXX County Schools may be ordered to open emergency shelters.
Shelters fall into two categories; host shelters and risk shelters. Host shelters consist of buildings that serve to quarter persons when there is no additional threat from the elements. For example, host shelters might be required to accept persons from Florida‘s
east coast who, because of an emergency, require some type of shelter and there is no
likelihood that XXXX County will be affected by the same emergency.
Risk shelters are meant to house evacuees and protect them from severe weather.
Typically, as in the case of an approaching hurricane, our schools will be called upon to
serve as risk shelters. If schools are to be used as risk shelters, persons may not be
housed in cafeterias, gymnasiums, auditoriums or other places where there is a large
roof span. Therefore, evacuees will need to be assigned to hallways and other common
areas approved for use; if warranted, classrooms may be added and used when
If shelters are required to be opened, individual principals, assistant principals, and
other personnel as required shall be notified by the Area Superintendent responsible for
the current activation. As public employees, these personnel are expected to report
as directed and failure to report will result in disciplinary action. Specific opening
hours will be communicated to the shelter manager at the time. The shelter manager
will them be responsible for notifying shelter personnel assigned to the shelter, with the
exception of food service and maintenance personnel who will be notified by their
II. LONG TERM PLANNNING FOR SHELTER OPERATIONS
At the beginning of the hurricane season, the principal or administrator of each school
or site that has been designated a shelter shall develop plans appropriate to ensure
efficient and safe shelter operations. At the minimum, the plan shall include the tasks
? Obtain from your Area Superintendent a list of PCSB personnel who will be
assigned to your shelter.
? Develop an assignment sheet consistent with the ICS model and the
responsibilities listed in the remainder of this manual. (e.g., Ms. Jones will be
assigned as the Operations Manager, Mr. Smith will be assigned as the Logistics
? Review you access routes onto the campus and determine where you will have a
drop off lane for arriving evacuees. If you will need traffic cones, the number and
type should be determined, then secured and stored prior to the arrival of any
storms. Cones are available through the warehouse.
? Review your bus access routes so that arriving buses, whenever possible, will
not conflict with the arriving evacuees who are unfamiliar with your school.
Determine if cones are necessary for this.
? Develop and store signs (or store them electronically so that they can be printed
when shelters open) for use during shelter operations that will assist evacuees
with finding things like bathrooms and the cafeteria (keeping in mind that your
evacuees are completely unfamiliar with your campus).
? Develop an ―information board‖ (e.g., a white board on an easel, or a bulleting
board to post notices) that will allow you to communicate information to evacuees.
For example, storm status and the time of the next meal are questions that are
frequently asked. (See Appendix B for additional rules you may post.)
? Determine which classrooms will be used if circumstances warrant, and the order
in which they will be opened.
? While smoking on BOARD property is prohibited, we recognize that evacuees
who smoke are addicted to nicotine and will smoke. Therefore, you should
identify and designate a smoking area that will be as far removed as practicable
from the balance of the evacuees. This area should be equipped with two or
three small sand filled cans (empty #10 steel cans may be obtained from your
food service staff) so their cigarettes butts can be discarded appropriately.
These items shall be recorded so that if you are out of town, unavailable or another
principal replaces you, they can rely on your plan.
III. SHORT TERM PLANING FOR SHELTER OPERATIONS
It is the responsibility of all shelter managers, and all PCSB personnel who have been
notified that they will be required to work when shelters have been activated, to pay
attention to all related weather developments regarding the approach of hurricanes.
When the storm is projected to strike the XXXX Area within 36 hours, you must, as
shelter manager, accomplish the following items in order to prepare your school for
possible use as a shelter:
? Front office personnel should be prepared to remove excess materials, clear the
counters and set up areas for the office to function as a command post.
? All teachers shall be notified to prepare their rooms by securing personal items,
test materials, and student information.
? Computers that will be needed in the command post or by shelter operations
personnel should be left on, as well as any network equipment. Other computers
(e.g., those in classrooms and offices) should be unplugged and covered to
prevent water damage in the event the roof leaks. Plastic garbage bags are
inexpensive and can serve as covers for the computers and monitors. Computers
in rooms with lots of windows should be moved to prevent or minimize impact
damage. Computers on the floor should be placed on tables or desks, and all
UPS systems should be unplugged.
? Classrooms with lots of windows should close their blinds.
? If equipped with a generator, have your HPO check on the fuel and oil level, and
conduct a short test run.
? Review your inventory of toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, and garbage
bags. Ensure that you have adequate supplies on hand based upon your
authorized evacuee load.
? Check with your cafeteria manager to ensure there is a sufficient inventory of
foodstuffs, paper plates, napkins and eating utensils.
? Test your P.A. system and your portable bullhorn, ensuring that you have spare
batteries for the bullhorn
? Remove all outside equipment (e.g. picnic tables or playground equipment) that
can become airborne in high winds.
? Contact your local garbage removal service to empty school dumpsters if they
are more than 25% full.
IV. SHELTER OPERATIONS
In order to provide the coordination of the district‘s response in shelter operations, as
well as providing the best support for shelter managers, whenever shelters are opened,
a district level Incident Command Center (ICC) will be opened at the XXXX Service
Center. The Incident Command Center is physically located in the warehouse
The Incident Command Center will include managers or directors who represent Food
Service, Maintenance, Warehouse, Schools Police, and School Operations
(Transportation is located at the County Emergency Operations Center). Each manager
is expected to designate, and be relieved by, a subordinate capable of handling his or
her operations during the ICC activation to include those hours when the primary
director is sleeping. A Director of School Operations shall assist the Area
Superintendent. The following chart illustrates the District Level ICS Organization:
With the exception of the Director of Operations (whose duties are noted below), all ICC
members shall report as directed by the Incident Commander. Just as shelter managers
are expected to ensure that they receive sufficient sleep in order to make quality
decisions, so too shall those personnel assigned to the Incident Command Center.
Upon arrival they will arrange a sleep schedule with their relief to ensure there is
coverage until the ICC is deactivated.
The Director of Operations shall serve as the relief for the Area Superintendent in the
Incident Command Center. However, after shelters have been open for two (2) hours,
and it is safe to do so, the Director of Operations shall visit all shelters in order to:
1. Determine if the shelters have opened with sufficient operating staff.
2. Ensure that the Shelter Incident Commander has scheduled personnel for
adequate rest periods.
3. Ensure that assignments have been made pursuant to the Incident Command
System as outlined in this document.
4. Determine if the shelter has sufficient operating supplies.
5. Issue special orders as needed.
Following the review of shelters and their operating efficiencies, the Director shall return
to the Incident Command Center to provide assistance to the Area Superintendent in
staffing the Operations desk within the ICC.
VI. SHELTER OPERATIONS
The shelter manager (principal) shall serve as the Site Commander at their respective
shelter for the duration of the event or until relieved. The shelter manager is expected to
organize and direct the operation of the shelter from a command post (usually the front
office) utilizing the Incident Command System framework. The shelter manager must
familiarize themselves with the written Agreement between the BOARD and Pinellas
County regarding emergency shelters (see appendix at end of this section). The shelter
manager reports directly to the Operations Desk within the District Level Incident
In order to ensure efficient operations during the emergency, shelter managers must be
aware of the directive from the Superintendent (September 9, 2004) regarding
compliance with directives from the Incident Command Center. The memorandum
reads (in part):
Therefore, when a directive emanates from the (District Level) Incident
Command Center it carries the weight of a directive from my office.
Subordinates may not countermand any directive from the Incident
Command Center, and any modifications to assignments or hours to be
worked must be approved by the Incident Command Center. As an example,
the person representing the Director of Maintenance has the authority to
order any maintenance employee to perform any duty, regardless of
whether the employee is usually in that chain of command or not. Likewise,
a principal from an Area I school is expected to comply with any directive
issued by my representative from Operations, regardless of whether they
are in that business chain of command or not.
A critical part of operating the shelter is to ensure that each member of your team is
prepared to handle problems quickly and professionally. They cannot do this if they are
fatigued. You should plan on being at the shelter for an extended period of time to
include the recovery stage after the storm has passed. Keep in mind also that while a
hurricane or other weather emergency is usually the reason for opening shelters, we
could also be called upon to open shelters in the event of a terrorist attack or other
emergency in our community.
Evacuees and shelter staff are under stress and tensions are often high. Human beings
need sleep, and their ability to make a sound decision is degraded the longer they are
sleep-deprived. Therefore, the shelter manager shall:
1. Develop a schedule to ensure that all staff members have an opportunity for
uninterrupted sleep during the shelter operations. A recommended staffing
schedule would be that the ―Red Team‖ obtains as much sleep as possible
from the early evening hours until midnight where they will relieve those who
have been on duty during these hours. The ―Blue Team‖ members would then
avail themselves of a minimum of 5 hours sleep. At all times, (Even during the
quietest times) there shall be a minimum of two assistant shelter managers
(or one shelter manager and one assistant shelter manager on duty at all
2. Once operations have commenced, shelter managers shall not release
subordinates to return home except with the permission of the Incident
Command Center, or when operations have ceased. Employees who are
released in order to return home and shower or eat with the expectation that
they will return immediately could be injured or killed. This creates significant
liability and workers‘ compensation issues for the district. In addition, there is
no guarantee that the released employees can even make it back to their
assignment, causing personnel shortages in critical assignments.
3. One person shall be appointed to serve as the Acting Shelter Manger during
the time that the Shelter Manager is sleeping.
TIP: Find an office away from the crowds, put on a small desk lamp or other
low light source to serve as a night-light; that way people coming into the area to
sleep don‘t have to turn on an overhead light.
TIP: Use a ―post it‖ or scotch-taped paper on the outside of the closed door
to list who is sleeping in the room; that way you won‘t be awakened by someone
who is looking for a third party
4. The approved staffing model for shelter operations is based upon the
approved number of evacuees for your site and is noted below:
First 1500 evacuees 3 Administrators
Each additional 1000 evacuees 1 Administrator
Traffic direction & general assistance 1 Administrator
Registration 2 at each shelter +1 for shelters>
Communications 2 at each shelter (1 per shift)
Plant Operations Staff 2 at each shelter +1 for
Additional ―support staff‖ 2 at shelters > 4500 evacuees
Within each shelter, Operations is responsible for all parts of shelter operations and the
Operations Manger, with the approval of the Incident Commander may appoint persons
to handle various components of operational plan. For example, responsibilities for
registration, and traffic assistance could be assigned to one Assistant Operations
Manager, and a second Assistant Operations Manager could be responsible for
patrolling and problem solving inside the shelter, as well as communications. The chart
on the following page illustrates the recommended ICS organizational setup for
operating a shelter:
The Operations section (headed by an Assistant Shelter Manager) is responsible for
A. Registration Area
1. All entrance doors except those directly into the registration area
should be locked from the outside so that arriving evacuees are
funneled into the registration area.
a. Signs should be posted for arriving evacuees
TIP: Position tables within the registration area to prevent
evacuees from by-passing the registration area (See Appendix C)
B. Registering incoming evacuees
1. Using the approved registration form (located at the end of this document) has
each person (or head of a family) complete the for
TIP: some schools have also issued the larger ―sticky‖ nametags, (like the
ones you wear at meetings) to evacuees so that you can address
them by name during routine interactions.
2. Each person must be registered and obtain a numbered wristband so that an
accurate head count can be obtained. The wristband will serve as a meal ticket;
therefore each person must have one.
3 During the registration process, those persons serving as registrars should
direct each person to read the posted rules; additionally, each person must be
scrutinized to ensure that they do not bring contraband (e.g. alcoholic
beverages or firearms) into the facility. It is recommended that during the
initial ―rush‖ of registration, you request that the law enforcement officers
assigned to the shelter have a presence in the registration area.
4. Each PCSB employee who does not have a uniform (e.g., food services and
maintenance staff) shall be required to wear an identification vest while on duty
at the shelter.
TIP: Since the paramedics assigned to your shelter will most likely be
operating off their respective radio frequencies, you will need to know
how to reach them in an emergency. In lieu of providing them with a
school portable, try to station them somewhere within the Command
Post (office) area. Of course they would also sleep in the area
designated for staff.
INCIDENT COMMANDER (PRINCIPAL)
LOGISTICS MANAGER PLANNING MANAGER FINANCE MANAGER OPERATIONS MANAGER
Patrol & Problem Solving
C. Assigning evacuees to a specific area.
1. Some shelters allow evacuees to choose the location where they will settle in.
Other shelters assign incoming evacuees to specific locations based upon families
and the ages of their children and they work to keep them from the elderly who
become disconcerted around small children who are ―wound up.‖ Regardless,
Operations should develop a plan prior to the arrival of evacuees.
TIP: In those areas where children and families will be housed, set up a
TV with a VCR and play an age appropriate video for the children.
This often succeeds in calming children down and parents will be
2. If the shelter is used as a ―risk‖ shelter, then evacuees shall not be placed into
gymnasiums, cafeterias or any space with a large roof span.
a. If the shelter is used as a ―host‖ shelter where severe weather is not a
factor and the school facility is used only to house incoming evacuees,
then gymnasium, cafeteria and other areas with large roof spans may be
b. In the event classrooms must be utilized, the following procedures shall
1. If time permits, those classrooms most vulnerable to theft and
damage shall be utilized last. This would include such facilities as
computer laboratories and/or media centers.
2. Plant operations staff, under the supervision of an administrator
shall disconnect any computers and remove them, placing them in
a secure area (e.g. consolidate all the removed computers into one
or two classrooms for storage) and cover the computers with a
plastic tarp or garbage bags.
3. In order to minimize theft and vandalism when evacuees are
assigned to a classroom, a volunteer should be identified to ―assist
shelter staff.‖ (Removing the anonymity of the evacuees in a given
room may prevent or reduce theft or vandalism). This person will be
referred to as a ―classroom coordinator‖ for the purpose of
communicating information or needs, to-and-from shelter staff.
Evacuees will be asked to communicate through this person.
Shelter staff must then ensure that they check with this room
―coordinator‖ at least once every half hour. Regular checks by
operations staff will also serve to minimize vandalism and theft.
D. Patrol and problem solving
1. Assistant Shelter Managers should be assigned to, and be given
responsibility for specific areas that they must patrol. For example, one
assistant shelter manager might be assigned to wings A, B and C while a
second Assistant Shelter Manager might be assigned wings D, E, and F.
a. Duties include identifying and dealing with problems early. For
example, the family that brings an inflatable king size bed which
takes up too much room must be advised, while setting it up,
that they can‘t use that bed, instead of waiting until they‘ve had
it up for several hours.
b. Smokers must be told where the smoking area is and that they
cannot smoke in the building.
c. Those with ―boom boxes‖ should be told that they are expected
to keep the music down and not force others to listen to ―their
TIP: Some evacuees, particularly the elderly, bring valuables ranging from
expensive jewelry to large amounts of cash to the shelters. As Assistant
Shelter Managers walk through the evacuee areas, they should be sensitive
to anyone who appears to be overly solicitous to the elderly. Look for those who
appear to be ―chatting up‖ the elderly evacuees, particularly if they are trying
to learn where they live. Report any suspicions to your law enforcement
representatives. (Note that you should not become involved in
―holding‖ any valuable property evacuees.)
2. Law Enforcement Officers are assigned to shelters to enforce the
laws. They cannot enforce shelter rules per se. Playing a boom box
too loud is not a criminal violation. However, failure to comply with a
request from shelter operations staff to turn down the music should be
turned over to law enforcement. In the case of violations:
a. Initiate enforcement by politely asking the person to comply with
a specific rule. If they fail to comply, locate a law enforcement
officer, then explain the issue to them and ask the officer/deputy
to accompany you as you once again make the request of the
offender. Usually, having a uniformed law enforcement officer
standing at your shoulder as you make the request is sufficient
to accomplish your goal.
b. In the event the person fails to comply, then (depending on the
stage of the storm) you should advise the person that as shelter
manager you are responsible for the entire shelter and if they
choose not to comply they will be ejected from the shelter.
(Keep in mind that the officer‘s last choice is to make a physical
arrest. If they make a physical arrest, they will have to travel to
the county jail with the suspect, or they will have to guard the
suspect for the duration of the event, which likely means several
hours. Therefore, you should use the threat of expulsion from
the shelter judiciously and you should discuss your plan of
action with the officer/deputy before you do so.)