Operation Brother’s Keeper
Developing the Program
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.
Working Together to Aid the Community
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 and Response
- Norfolk Geographic Information Systems
- Norfolk Human Services
- Norfolk Neighborhood Development
- Norfolk Police and Fire-Rescue
- Norfolk Public Safety Chaplains
- Norfolk Public Works
- American Red Cross
- National Weather Service
- Operation Blessing International
- Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Ways the Faith Community Can Help During Disasters
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:
- Assist with vulnerable populations
- Disaster Recovery Center
- Emergency Sheltering
- Family Assistance Center
- Food/water distribution
- Manual labor / Volunteers
- Mass feeding
- Media Staging
- Neighborhood Emergency Hub
- Park lot for food/water distribution
- Prayer warriors
- Report community needs to EOC
- School Evacuation Assembly Area
- Share information with congregants
- Spiritual counseling
Establishing a Partnership Now
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 email Karen Lovely.