Norfolk emergency planners watch and learn from Ida response in Louisiana


NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — As Hurricane Ida lashed Louisiana, Norfolk Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response Jim Redick was glued to the TV.

“[We’re watching] what the response is… watching what those challenges are… so that we can then bounce them off of our plan so we can learn from any of those lessons that are being taught by those disasters,” Redick told WAVY.

He said while COVID-19 does create challenges with responding to a disaster, it’s also helped in a couple of ways.

“Fortunately, a lot of the folks on whom we expect to go into our shelters, those who are experiencing homelessness already have other accommodations and have throughout the entire pandemic,” he said.

That means more space is available for social distancing in the emergency shelters.

Redick told 10 On Your Side that Norfolk has 12 shelter sites that could each accommodate 300 to 400 people. Proof of vaccination would not be required to enter a shelter, but no one with symptoms would be allowed inside.

“I guess another silver lining of COVID is that we’ve been working so closely with so many of our partners, it’s not like we have to ramp up for a storm. We’re ramped up, we have been ramped up, we’ve been ramped up for a year and a half,” he said.

That means all technology they would rely on in a storm is not only operational, it’s also working like a well-oiled machine.

“If it came tomorrow, we wouldn’t want it but we would be able to operate and get through it just as we have been throughout COVID,” he said.

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