(1) In order to meet the special needs of persons who would need assistance during evacuations and sheltering because of physical, mental, cognitive impairment, or sensory disabilities, each local emergency management agency in the state shall maintain a registry of persons with special needs located within the jurisdiction of the local agency. The registration shall identify those persons in need of assistance and plan for resource allocation to meet those identified needs. To assist the local emergency management agency in identifying such persons, home health agencies, hospices, nurse registries, home medical equipment providers, the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Health, Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Education, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and Department of Elderly Affairs shall provide registration information to all of their special needs clients and to all persons with special needs who receive services. The registry shall be updated annually. The registration program shall give persons with special needs the option of preauthorizing emergency response personnel to enter their homes during search and rescue operations if necessary to assure their safety and welfare following disasters.
(2) The Department of Community Affairs shall be the designated lead agency responsible for community education and outreach to the public, including special needs clients, regarding registration and special needs shelters and general information regarding shelter stays.
(3) A person with special needs must be allowed to bring his or her service animal into a special needs shelter in accordance with s. 413.08. (4)(a) On or before May 31 of each year each electric utility in the state shall annually notify residential customers in its service area of the availability of the registration program available through their local emergency management agency by:
1. An initial notification upon the activation of new residential service with the electric utility, followed by one annual notification between January 1 and May 31; or
2. Two separate annual notifications between January 1 and May 31.
(b) The notification may be made by any available means, including, but not limited to, written, electronic, or verbal notification, and may be made concurrently with any other notification to residential customers required by law or rule.
(5) All records, data, information, correspondence, and communications relating to the registration of persons with special needs as provided in subsection (1) are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1), except that such information shall be available to other emergency response agencies, as determined by the local emergency management director. Local law enforcement agencies shall be given complete shelter roster information upon request.
(6) All appropriate agencies and community-based service providers, including home health care providers, hospices, nurse registries, and home medical equipment providers, shall assist emergency management agencies by collecting registration information for persons with special needs as part of program intake processes, establishing programs to increase the awareness of the registration process, and educating clients about the procedures that may be necessary for their safety during disasters. Clients of state or federally funded service programs with physical, mental, cognitive impairment, or sensory disabilities who need assistance in evacuating, or when in shelters, must register as persons with special needs.