The City of Norfolk is building community-level resilience through a collaborative initiative, Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Under the program, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA) Midrise apartment residents participate in a three-week emergency preparedness workshop to learn about disaster readiness, neighborhood safety, fire safety, and first aid.
Led by the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response and the Norfolk Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) leaders, Midrise residents receive hands-on training in hands-only CPR, basic first-aid, stop-the-bleed techniques, and the Heimlich maneuver. NRHA police officers engage the residents in conversations about safety in their neighborhoods. The Fire Department also visits each Midrise for a fire drill evacuation and to teach residents how to use a fire extinguisher. The Sheriff’s Department speaks with the residents about Project Lifesaver, a program to help protect loved ones who are prone to wandering. These conversations provide a learning opportunity not only for Norfolk residents, but also for the City.
By the end of each workshop, residents are prepared to be more self-sufficient during an emergency or disaster, and have the tools to continue building resilience by sharing their knowledge with neighbors. Residents who complete all three weeks of the workshop receive emergency kits sponsored by a Cities of Service grant, which was awarded to the City Manager’s Office of Resilience to support community resilience initiatives. After the workshop, a handful of residents travel to the next Midrise for the next workshop to help teach more residents what they learned.
The City’s two Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America), who work full time in the City Manager’s Office of Resilience on impact volunteering initiatives, help manage Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The next step is to continue to collaborate with the Office of Emergency Preparedness and NRHA to further develop the “train the trainer” aspect of this initiative to engage more residents throughout the city in emergency and disaster preparedness.
This initiative exemplifies that, by working together and sharing knowledge with one another, we can make Norfolk more resilient to the shocks and stresses of the 21st century.