Hoboken, the day after Ida

Mayor Bhalla warned as city recovers that climate change is causing the extreme weather

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla speaks at a press conference after remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the city. Screenshot from the City of Hoboken.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla speaks at a press conference after remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the city. Screenshot from the City of Hoboken.

After remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled New Jersey with heavy rain, the city of Hoboken got reacquainted with an old nemesis: flooding. On the day after, at the start of the recovery effort, Mayor Ravi Bhalla pinned the cause of the recent extreme weather on climate change, and on those who profit from fossil fuels.

Record rainfall

The Mile Square city received a record rainfall total of 4.92 inches, with the peak 15-minute rainfall intensity also breaking records at 4.32 inches an hour. The city declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, urging residents to stay at home and not to travel to any areas that are flooded. Photos and video footage on the internet showed streets filled with water.

“Please do not drive around barricades and do not walk through floodwaters for your safety and the safety of your neighbors,” said Mayor Bhalla at a press conference the next day. “The best that you can do to help emergency operations is to just please stay home if you can. If your travel is essential, please enter and leave Hoboken from the north.”

The city’s Department of Environmental Services is currently working to remove debris on the roadways, with street sweepers being deployed to clear debris. The city’s pump stations are continuing to pump water out of the streets.

The Multi-Service Center and Senior Center were closed Thursday, and the Hop Shuttle Service was also suspended. Parking meters were not in operation, and the city’s COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics were cancelled for the day.

Mayor Bhalla warns about climate change

Bhalla warned that climate change is the cause of more frequent and extreme weather conditions, as it has become a pressing issue globally.

“We also have to recognize and adapt to a fundamental paradigm shift, and that paradigm shift is this: Hurricane Ida was not a force of Mother Nature, this was a manmade disaster” he said. “The culprits of this disaster: the fossil fuel industry, big oil, and its enablers must and should be held accountable for the havoc they’ve wreaked upon our quality of life here in Hoboken, throughout the region and other parts of this country.”

Bhalla urged the federal government to provide a disaster declaration for the region to access additional funding for emergency responses, as well as individuals and businesses impacted by the storm.

Flood damage assistance

The city of Hoboken is assisting with flood damage in Ida’s wake.

Flooded items such as furniture, carpets, and objects (each less than 50lbs.) can be placed at  the curb for garbage pickup Thursday, Sept. 2. The city said that building materials should not be placed at the curb; they must be separated from regular garbage. The city will announce a collection schedule for materials such as drywall, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, electrical or mechanical equipment, tile, wood, and insulation.

Homeowners were encouraged to keep a list of damages to structures and contents in case that the federal government declares an emergency. FEMA will then assist impacted homeowners through the the Individual Assistance programs that offer financial support for damaged structures and contents.

The city will expedite permits for storm recovery; permits are required for demolition and removal of flood damaged building materials, such as drywall, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, plumbing fixtures, and any electrical or mechanical equipment for heating and cooling. Permit applications are available at www.hobokennj.gov/forms or hoboken.seamlessdocs.com/f/Construction_Permit_App.

For suspected structural damage or foundation issues that are an immediate hazard, contact the construction official at mpatruno@hobokennj.gov or 201-420-2066, the Community Emergency Response (CERT) Hotline at at 201-420-2000, ext. 1701, 1702, 1703, and 1705, or the Hoboken Fire Department.

If substantial damage is suspected (damages that exceed 50 percent of the value of the building, land not included) contact the City Floodplain Administrator, Ann Holtzman at aholtzman@hobokennj.gov or 201-420-3100.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.