Norfolk city officials recap storm response

Oct. 5, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Tuesday night, Norfolk City Council heard a recap of that coastal storm that rolled through two weekends ago.

City officials were asked to present at the council meeting to discuss what went wrong and right during the storm response.

“As always it was an opportunity to work together to strengthen ‘Team Norfolk’ and really work through any hazards that come our way,” said the Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Jim Redick, during his presentation.

Redick said what went wrong and right often has to do with communication in his department. Redick said briefings and connecting with different parts of the community went well.

“We did a lot of coordination, a lot of communication,” explained Redick. “Doing our emergency operations center briefings through conference line and video links; sharing all that information, being able to communicate with our houses of worship for the first time.”

Redick said his department also used the new Norfolk operation Brother’s Keeper, which allows for better communication with the faith community during an emergency.

Redick added, there are always lessons learned, like improving communication with Norfolk Public Schools during storms. Councilman Tommy Smigiel had questions about why the school system didn’t close early on the Friday before the storm, and what information was communicated to the people making the decision.

“There’s lessons learned about communicating with Norfolk Public Schools, and the parents, and children of the schools,” said Redick. “Because we are essentially serving the same population, so making sure that we’re speaking with one voice, one unified message.”

Redick did explain during the presentation that NPS did have all the information on the storm and conditions. However, students were not released early because the release would have happened during high tide.

Director of Public Works, David Ricks, also presented on Tuesday night. City staff answered questions on the beach erosion now evident throughout Ocean View and East Beach. For example, staff said they can replenish the beaches soon with truck hauling operations. The replenishment could happen within the next few weeks to a couple of months.

City staff also said they will be holding a meeting with various civic league presidents on Friday. The meeting will be an update for beach neighborhoods on what will be happening with the emergency beach replenishment.

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