Emergency Shelters

In the event of a major storm, Virginia Beach may activate emergency shelters.

An emergency shelter is a measure of last resort – a place to go if it is unsafe to stay at home and there are no other options available to you.

Because each situation is unique, only certain shelters may be opened during an emergency. The city’s website and social media, local TV, and radio stations will have up-to-date information on shelter locations and opening times.

If you do go to a shelter, be prepared to live in close quarters with other evacuees for several days. There may also be additional safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19. Before you go to the shelter, secure your home, and shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity), if advised to do so

What You Need to Know
Shelter RulesWhat to BringProhibited ItemsMedical Friendly Shelters (MSF)Pet Shelters

Shelter residents must follow these rules:

  • Register with the front desk. Sign in and out.
  • Respect quiet hours.
  • Help keep the shelter clean.
  • No alcohol or drugs are permitted.
  • No firearms or weapons.
  • Smoke only in designated areas.
  • No household pets are allowed in the shelter except for service animals. Allowable household pets must be placed in the Pet Shelter if one is opened.
  • No photos or videoing of shelter residents inside the shelter.
  • Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
  • The shelter and the City of Virginia Beach are not responsible for lost or stolen items.
  • All questions and concerns should be addressed with Shelter Team Members or the Shelter Manager.

Be sure to bring enough supplies to last at least three days for each family member. Supplies are often hard to come by ahead of a storm and maybe even more difficult during a pandemic. Many of the items listed below are also needed as part of a well-stocked emergency kit. You should gather supplies early – well ahead of any storms – and have them ready in case of an emergency.

  • Face masks and/or cloth face coverings
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Bottled water
  • Canned/packaged food (snacks or special dietary items)
  • Manual can opener & cooler, as needed
  • Portable flashlight & batteries
  • Folding chairs
  • Change of comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Cot or sleeping bag, blanket & pillow
  • Quiet games, toys, books, cards
  • Phone charger
  • Hand-held devices (tablets, games, etc.) with headphones or earbuds
  • First aid kit and any medications
  • Toiletries, glasses or contact lenses, contact cleaning solution, hearing aids, toothbrush/toothpaste, and dentures
  • ID, car keys, credit cards, and cash
  • Photocopies of important papers (insurance policies, proof of residence, etc.)
  • Baby supplies (food or formula, diapers, etc.)
  • Durable medical equipment (cane, walker, etc.)
  • Pet supplies

These aren’t allowed at shelters:

  • Alcohol, drugs, other illegal substances
  • Smoking, matches, lighters
  • Loud radios or televisions
  • Weapons of any kind (guns, knives, chains, etc.)

City officials may open a Medically Friendly Shelter (MFS) if needed. It is only activated for a Category 2 or greater hurricane or as directed by the city manager.

The MFS is for people who, during periods of evacuation or emergency, require sheltering assistance due to physical, mental, or cognitive impairment, or a sensory disability that exceeds the basic level of care provided at ta general population shelter but does not require the level of care provided at a skilled medical facility. This includes helping with administering medication and personal hygiene assistance for daily living activities such as washing, dressing, and eating.

The MFS is not for people who have significant medical problems, injuries, or illness and/or that require total dependence on others for care. Examples include individuals who are bedridden, have NG tubes for feeding, require monitoring and pain management after a recent injury, are recovering from surgery, or are contagious.

City officials may open a pet shelter if needed. The pet shelter will accept dogs, cats, birds, turtles, and other small mammals. Amphibians, reptiles, arachnids, and farm animals are not accepted at the pet shelter. Owners will need to make alternate arrangements elsewhere for animals not accepted at the pet shelter.

Owners should plan to bring the following items for their pets:

  • Leash/collar
  • Crate
  • Food
  • Medicine
  • Vaccination records
  • Comfort care items

Owners will be expected to care for their pets and will have a scheduled time to do so to ensure adequate social distancing during COVID-19.

Page Last Updated: September 12, 2022