Alachua County now plans to open 12 emergency shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma

Alachua County officials discuss plans for Hurricane Irma Wednesday. (Gabby Arzola/WGFL).

Alachua County now plans to open 12 emergency shelters Friday to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

The county had already planned to open three shelters but is expanding that number in response to the state's request to help people evacuating South Florida. County officials say that number will provide shelter for more than 7,000 of the state's most vulnerable residents.

County officials say more shelters could open. They've asked both the University of Florida and Santa Fe College to assist. The county says they're waiting on the the schools' response.

Of the 12 current shelters, one is specifically for people with special needs; two are pet-friendly and the rest are for the population in general. The shelters will be staffed by Alachua County and Alachua County Public Schools personnel.

Special needs shelter

The special needs shelter open at 10 a.m. at the Alachua County Senior Center at 5701 NW 34th Blvd. Anyone needing to arrange special needs transportation may call the county beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday at the following numbers: (352) 955-2575, (352) 955-2576, (352) 955-2577, or (352) 955-2579.

Pet-friendly shelters

The pet-friendly shelter at Easton Newberry Sports Complex will open at 10 a.m. That address is 24880 NW 16 Ave. in Newberry.

The second pet-friendly shelter will open at 5 p.m. at the Waldo Community School at 14450 NE 148th Ave. in Waldo.

You're encouraged to bring basic pet supplies such as collars, leashes, crates, carriers, towels, blankets, pet medications, food and proof of vaccinations. Animals without vaccinations will have them done on site to prevent the spread of illness. Animal Services and support staff will be on-site to make sure both animals and people are safe.

General population shelters

Alachua Elementary School, 13800 Northwest 152nd Place, Alachua. Opens at 3 p.m.

Buchholz High School, 5510 NW 27th Ave, Gainesville. Opens at 4 p.m.

Chiles Elementary School, 2525 School House Rd, Gainesville. Opens at 3 p.m.

Kanapaha Middle School, 5005 SW 75th St, Gainesville. Opens at 5 p.m.

Meadowbrook Elementary School, 11525 NW 39th Ave., Gainesville. Opens at 3 p.m.

Rawlings Elementary School, 3500 NE 15th St, Gainesville. Opens at 4 p.m.

Santa Fe High School, 16213 US-441, Alachua. Opens at 4 p.m.

Shell Elementary School, 21633 65th Ave, Hawthorne. Opens at 3 p.m.

Williams Elementary School, 1245 SE 7th Ave, Gainesville. Opens at 3 p.m.

The county says general population shelters should be considered a last resort, only used by those living in homes that are potentially unsafe in high winds, are in flood-prone areas or don't have anywhere else to go. The general population shelters will not provide cots, beds or bedding. You're encouraged to bring special dietary foods, child necessities, prescription medications, clothing, personal care items and a small cooler.

To stay informed about current conditions and threats in Alachua County you're encouraged to call 311, the Alachua County Information and Rumor Control Line. The number cannot receive texts.

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