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Operation Brother’s Keeper
The City of Norfolk is blessed with a strong and diverse faith community with well over 300 Houses of Worship residing in a Category 2 Hurricane Zone or higher.  Whether the threats our community faces are natural or man-made, there is a role available for all of our faith partners!  

Borrowing the idea from Louisiana’s faith community as mentioned in Chapter 3 of the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, Emergency Preparedness and Response laid the foundation for a program called “Norfolk Operation Brother’s Keeper” in Norfolk with the intent of training and empowering our faith-based organizations throughout the City.  This is done by effectively utilizing local, state and federal resources and manpower to assist those in need and further identify and rapidly deploy a resource pool or identified trained volunteers. 

To be clear, this program is all about working together.  A steering committee has been in place led by faith leaders of various denominations and geographically dispersed.  Likewise, city staff and community partners offer much-needed training for faith leaders and support staff, develop and share free plans disaster plans, are ready to discuss concepts, strategies and realistic expectations, and want to otherwise build relationships with our strong faith community.  Training sessions to date have included the Active Shooter threat as well as Hurricanes / Tropical and Winter Storms.  Agencies which support Norfolk Operation Brother’s Keeper include the following:

Norfolk Emergency Preparedness & Response Norfolk Public Works
Norfolk Geographic Information Systems  American Red Cross
Norfolk Human Services National Weather Service
Norfolk Neighborhood Development Operation Blessing International 
Norfolk Police and Fire-Rescue Dept. of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Norfolk Public Safety Chaplains  

Norfolk’s participating Houses of Worship have the access and information to make planning and operational decisions based on the same material received in the Emergency Operations Center.  They are also given the opportunity to assist with any disaster in a meaningful and coordinate way.  By working together there is great potential in building the resilience and capacity for our community.  Ways in which the faith community can help during times of disaster include the following:

Neighborhood Emergency Hub Food/water distribution
Mass feeding  Park lot for food/water distribution
Assist with vulnerable populations Share information with congregants
Report community needs to EOC Emergency Sheltering
Manual labor / Volunteers Prayer warriors
Disaster Recovery Center Spiritual counseling
School Evacuation Assembly Area Media Staging
Family Assistance Center  

For the protection and well-being of our community, for the most effective preparedness, response and recovery efforts, this partnership must be established and cultivated now.  There is much we can do at no cost; the plans and frameworks are already in place!  All it takes is the investment of time - now – before the next incident.

For more information or to express in Operation Brother’s Keeper, please contact Ms. Karen Lovely at (757) 441-5584 or .