Tuesday, October 29, 2013

City of Hoboken: Progress Toward a More Resilient Future One Year After Hurricane Sandy

The City of Hoboken courtesy of Mayor Dawn Zimmer recaps plans for resiliency for Hoboken a year after Hurricane Sandy......


New legislation would prevent development on waterfront piersPublic awareness event to be held 4:00pm-6:30pm in front of City Hall

1600 Park Hoboke Cove Hoboken

Hoboken Cove park and natural landscape for coastal defense and recreation. Concept by OMA team, Rebuild by Design competition (www.rebuildbydesign.org/project/comprehensive-strategy).

One year after Superstorm Sandy flooded nearly 80% of Hoboken and left more than 90% without power, the City is making progress towards implementing a comprehensive Resiliency and Readiness Plan based on a “layers of protection” approach to protect the community from future storms and disasters.

“We’ve made significant progress towards physically and financially protecting Hoboken, but we still have a long way to go,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Flood pumps and green infrastructure are key parts of our comprehensive plan, but they alone can’t stop a storm surge or protect us from skyrocketing flood insurance costs. Through a combination of grants, low-interest loans, bonding, public-private partnerships, and the redevelopment process, we will make Hoboken a more resilient city.”

The City’s concept for a comprehensive flood-mitigation plan, which includes flood pumps, green infrastructure, and coastline protection from rising seas and storm surges, is being developed and refined by teams in the federally-funded Rebuild by Design regional competition. Winning projects will be implemented with federal disaster recovery funds and private funding. Residents may view the various projects and submit their input on which should proceed to the final round by visiting www.rebuildbydesign.org.

“Hoboken is stronger than ever, not just because of what government is doing, but because of our amazing community,” added Mayor Zimmer. “More than 150 volunteers have stepped up to build our Community Emergency Response Team, and the grassroots MileMesh initiative to build a resilient wireless communications network is inspiring dozens to help build a stronger Hoboken. I encourage every resident and business to be a part of making our City more resilient. Prepare a home emergency kit, join our CERT team, submit a comment to support a Hoboken-related Rebuild by Design project, or visit www.milemesh.com and volunteer to be part of this exciting effort.”

The Administration will also introduce legislation at the next City Council meeting that would ban residential and commercial development on waterfront piers. Legislation that would result in lower flood insurance rates for all property owners, which was previously voted down by the City Council, will also be reintroduced.

“I recently met a Hoboken couple whose flood insurance costs skyrocketed from $750 to $5,000 per year,” added Mayor Zimmer. “My ultimate goal is to demonstrate to the federal government that our city is truly protected, so Hoboken residents and businesses can be free from the unfair National Flood Insurance Program that provides us almost no coverage when we need it most. Until then, we will work to lower everyone’s flood insurance rates by improving our score in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System.”

As part of the ongoing 'Hoboken Ready' initiative, the City and members of CERT will hold a public awareness event in front of City Hall from 4:00pm to 6:30pm to educate the community on emergency preparedness and the City’s various initiatives for flood and energy resiliency.

The City’s Resiliency and Readiness plan addresses power outages, flooding due to storm surges and rain events at high tide, and increasing threats from climate change and other disasters. The City's progress on this plan during the past year includes:

Stormwater/Flood Management
  • Applied for $11.5 million low interest loan for 2nd flood pump
  • Requiring the funding of two additional pumps as developer givebacks
  • Supporting and advocating for North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s FEMA grant application for 3 flood pumps
  • Acquired 1 acre for new park in Southwest Hoboken, to be expanded through the Rehabilitation process, and in negotiations to acquire 7 additional acres of property for open space in Western Hoboken, and incorporating large scale flood mitigation strategies into park designs
  • Awarded $500,000 in planning assistance through the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Re.Invest Initiative to design and identify financing mechanisms to implement large-scale flood mitigation strategies into new parks
  • Developed a city-wide stormwater strategic plan with a $90,000 grant from Together North Jersey
  • Awarded a Sustainable Jersey grant to design and build a rain garden curb extension demonstration project
  • Designed a sustainable block plan for City Hall to serve as a city-wide model for disconnecting downspouts and capturing and delaying stormwater from entering the sewer system
  • Finalizing the Green Element of Hoboken’s Master Plan
Energy Resiliency
  • Entered into first-of-its-kind partnership with the Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, PSE&G & NJ Board of Public Utilities to design a resilient microgrid. Initial design expected in early 2014. State of New Jersey/Governor’s Office offering assistance for development, which may be financed through a public-private partnership
  • Bonded to purchase 7 backup generators for Police, Fire, Ambulance Corps & City Hall
  • Awarded $142,080 grant from State for emergency energy systems
  • City Administration & Council expressed support for PSE&G Energy Strong program to combine and elevate Hoboken’s three electrical substations
Shoreline/Storm Surge Protection
  • Collaborating with design teams from the federally-funded Rebuild by Design competition to design and fund regional resiliency measures, including coastal flood protection
  • Redesigning Hoboken Cove park to incorporate storm surge protection along the Hoboken/Weehawken border
  • NJ Transit Redevelopment Plan being revised to include storm surge protection along the Hoboken/Jersey City border
  • Working with researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology to evaluate concepts for protecting vulnerable coastline areas from storm surges
Personal Preparedness Readiness
  • Hosted Hoboken Ready information sessions in community centers, schools and senior buildings
  • Mailed Hoboken Ready information flyer to all residents and businesses
  • Expanded Community Emergency Response Team to over 100 members, with 60 more in training
  • Hoboken Community Emergency Response Team recognized by FEMA and the White House
  • Bonded to purchase a surplus military high water vehicle to safely reach flooded areas
  • Supporting the grassroots-driven “MileMesh” initiative - a wireless mesh network with backup power for communications resiliency
  • Established Resiliency Task Force and the position of floodplain manager in the Zoning Office
  • Pursuing National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System to lower property owner’s flood insurance rates city-wide
  • Amending Flood Damage Prevention ordinance so buildings are built to more resilient standards
  • Awarded $200,000 state grant to 1) Update design standards 2) Prepare hazard mitigation plan 3) Prepare 5 year capital plan 4) Update stormwater management plan and ordinance 5) Prepare open space plan to incorporate green infrastructure in City parks and open space
  • Applied to Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge for $1 million resiliency grant
  • Working with NJIT Center for Resilient Design studio for the renovation & rehabilitation of the Multi-Service Center site