A city that takes emergency management seriously could be a model for other cities that intend to survive the rising coastal waters. Will federal government call them "preppers"? Is Norfolk a city of terror suspects because it engages in disaster preparedness?
To make sure residents don't lose their homes, Norfolk has already taken a number of steps. It spends millions each year to improve drainage. It has also raised the level of some roads and found money to elevate the foundations of some houses.
But the centerpiece of Norfolk's survival strategy is a comprehensive plan put together by a Dutch company to keep water out of some of the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods. The plan includes more sea walls, floodgates, pumping stations and earthen berms.
The price tag: about $1 billion, roughly the size of the city's entire annual budget. That means it can't be done without help from state and federal government, Fraim says. "We simply are not able to hold back the sea by ourselves."
And even if Fraim is able to raise the money, the city's strategy will still require something known as "managed retreat," he says.
"The cost of the flood mitigation sometimes is so steep that it actually makes more sense just to, you know, give up a few homes," he says.