How has Hudson County invested in resiliency 10 years since Hurricane Sandy?

Many officials believe their towns are better prepared than in 2012

Ten years after Hurricane Sandy devastated communities across New Jersey, officials from the state to the county level remembered the aftermath of the storm and touted steps taken to prevent another such disaster.

Last year, nine years after Sandy, the Hudson Reporter and Bayonne Community News surveyed officials from practically each municipality affected in the county to see what had been done proactively to prevent another disaster in the wake of a super storm.

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Officials from all municipalities had taken steps to mitigate issues experienced during Sandy, and many believed their respective municipalities were better prepared for such a storm than in 2012.

Hoboken and Jersey City mayors praise resiliency investments

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla praised the steps the city has taken to avert another crisis. Even five years after the storm, the city had been proactive in its efforts, primarily the Rebuild by Design project to protect the city and surrounding communities during severe storms.

“With this past Saturday marking 10 years since Superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact in Hoboken, I’m proud to say that our Mile Square is stronger and more resilient than ever before,” Bhalla said in an email to supporters. He also praised coverage of the city’s efforts in the New Jersey Monitor.

“We’ve made unprecedented investments to combat rainfall and storm surge flooding through our historic $330 million Rebuild by Design project, four new resiliency parks with flood infrastructure…, a third new flood pump currently under construction, and dozens of new rain gardens and bioswales, among many others,” Bhalla continued.

The project features a series of seawalls, state-of-the-art green spaces and resiliency parks, water pumps and sewer system upgrades in Hoboken. The resiliency parks in the city include Northwest Park, expanded Southwest Park, Cove Park, and 800 Monroe.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also touted the investments that the city has made in the 10 years since Sandy.

“Many of us experienced firsthand the damage from Sandy and I do believe that Jersey City has been extremely proactive in making our city more resilient over the last 10 years,” Fulop said in a post on social media. His comments came in response to coverage by the Jersey Journal that the county was better prepared for a superstorm now than 10 years prior.

Fulop said Jersey City has invested millions of dollars to better prepare. The city has built new pumping systems, built new water retention systems, is lowering its carbon footprint, has new flood maps, created new incentives programs to encourage greener buildings and more.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our future and we will continue to do our part as a municipality to make sure we are protecting our residents,” Fulop said.

In Bayonne, the city has also been focusing on resiliency-related infrastructure improvements. Since Sandy, this has included renovating its pumping stations, implementing smart manholes, installing a stormwater collection cistern beneath the renovated Fitzpatrick Park, installing new stormwater pumps, and purchasing emergency generators, among other measures.

Upgrades to Cottage Street Park are slated to reduce flooding as well. The city is cooperating with municipalities that make up the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission on the Regional Long Term Control Plan to manage Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), which occur when rain water causes the flooding and spilling of untreated sewage into waterways. The city also has its own Long Term Control Plan, which calls for more cisterns built in the city in the future among other initiatives.

In North Hudson communities affected by the storm including Weehawken and North Bergen, new pumping stations have been installed, and sewer upgrades have occurred with more comprehensive plans in the works. Southern Weehawken would also benefit from the Rebuild by Design flood wall, and while a fix for broken floodgates were proposed in North Bergen in the northern part of the township on West Side Avenue and the area along Bellevue Creek, that has not yet come to fruition.

A decade since Hurricane Sandy made landfall

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) lauded the progress made within the past decade, while reaffirming his commitment to fighting on behalf of Sandy survivors.

“Ten years ago, today, one of the worst storms hit our state – flooding entire communities, destroying homes, displacing families and shuttering businesses. In the days and weeks following Hurricane Sandy, New Jerseyans up and down the state came together in solidarity, showing grit, resiliency and a determination to build back,” said Menendez.

“Following the storm, I made a commitment to Sandy survivors that I would fight for the federal resources to recover and rebuild. In the decade since, I’ve secured billions of dollars in funding to help the region recover and invest in mitigation projects. I exposed lowballing and successfully pushed FEMA to reopen claims and give New Jerseyans the money they deserved. And I’ve been fighting to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has been plagued with waste and mismanagement.”

Menendez has been an advocate in Congress on behalf of Sandy survivors. He helped pass the original $60 billion Sandy aid package and is a leading advocate for reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that include unprecedented federal investment in flood mitigation and resiliency.

Menendez first exposed the problem of widespread lowballing of flood insurance claims during Congressional hearings he chaired in 2014, and then successfully pushed FEMA to reopen every Sandy flood insurance claim for review, which compensated victims with more than $260 million in additional payments they were initially denied. His Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law in 2014 to address skyrocketing rates many Sandy survivors were encountering.

In 2020, Sen. Menendez announced $14 million in FEMA funding to construct the Northwest Resiliency Park to mitigate flooding in the Northwest section of Hoboken. Funding also went to the North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) to complete stormwater infrastructure upgrades in areas adjacent to the park.

Menendez also secured $230 million in federal funding for Hoboken’s ‘Rebuild by Design’ project. He also secured two funding extensions for the project, ensuring the project could move forward.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish, but there is still much more to do,” Menendez continued. “We need to help the hundreds of Sandy survivors who are being asked by the federal government to pay back aid they already used to rebuild their homes. We must continue investing in mitigation and prevention, which will make our state more resilient when the next big storm inevitably strikes. I’ll continue pushing for reforms to the NFIP, so that no flood victim has to face the same problems that Sandy survivors did. And my fight won’t be over until every single Sandy survivor returns to their home. Their fight is my fight.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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