Would Hoboken Sea Walls work?

Hoboken sea wall idea debunked, Zimmer talks about “character”

Dawn Zimmer on Hoboken Sea Walls for flooding mitigationYesterday morning, a radio interview aired on NPR with Mayor Dawn Zimmer talking about the Hoboken Sea Wall that is on the radar after Hurricane Sandy flooded Hoboken.

Also on the program was Phil Orton, an oceanographer from Stevens Institute as well as Paul Gallay, the Hudson Riverkeeper President – both men with profoundly more knowledge than our Mayor, who just reads prepared press releases and coaching cue cards.

Zimmer spoke about (well rehearsed spiel) a “universal solution” of walls, grass, and windmills (along with cotton candy and crossing your fingers it doesn’t happen again). And the two other guests on the show basically said that The Hoboken Flood Walls are a BAD IDEA – and will never work. In fact could cause WORSE problems for both Hoboken and surrounding areas.

Dawn’s response? “We’ve got a city with fantastic character, and we don’t want to destroy that character. And most importantly, I mean, what we’re talking about is the future of Hoboken and the future of, you know, the urban landscape.”

Listen below (interview is about 3:50 in length). Photos courtesy of 7th Sign Photography here in Hoboken.

Zimmer’s big picture for Hoboken is “nightlife” and “shopping”

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on WYNCAs part of her orchestrated “radio interviews over the phone” media blitz yesterday (these things don’t happen by accident – they are purposely arranged in attempt to “shape” public perception with the same repeated message over and over) – Zimmer appeared on The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC as well.

The topic was “Protecting Hoboken.”

I stopped listening after the first question. Why? See it for yourself – and listen below. I got quite a few emails saying what a bumbling embarrassment it was for US in Hoboken. Dare you to read the transcript without getting dizzy.

Brian Lehrer: “First, can you give us a top line update on how the city is doing, how many people are still without homes, does anyone still not have power? Where are you “big picture,” first of all?”

Dawn Zimmer: “Well, the big picture, I mean, it’s a du, it’s a, the challenge is, it’s really a dual message I mean we’re very proud of all the, you know, great restaurants and shopping and night life that we have in Hoboken and so, you know, um, W-Washington Street, the majority along our waterfront is all very much open for business and and uh, you know many of the stores have been able and residents have been able to get back in, but then you know we have, we do have a lot of renters and renters have had to, uh, move on, and and property owners are, you know trying to uh you know there’s there’s quite a few people I know who are not yet back in um, and there’s, I walked from uh, you know I live in southwest Hoboken, my my home was flooded and so I walked down First Street and down Observer Highway to to work and uh you know I could see there’s a lot of businesses that are not yet opened back up.”

HOLY CRAP! How the hell is that answering the question? Is she really our Mayor? Yeah?

I couldn’t bear to hear the rest. Interview begins at the 2:30 mark:

God help us!

Hoboken Sea Walls – a flooding solution?


Well all know Hoboken is not only synonymous with Frank Sinatra and Baseball – it’s also well known for how bad it floods. Whether it’s a brief summer thunderstorm or a major storm like Hurricane Sandy, where our shores were breached by the Hudson River.

Despite all the flooding, Hoboken has been here for 200 years, with much of it’s history still in place.

Our recent flooding disaster with Sandy not only resulted in FEMA updating the flood maps for our area, it’s also led to recent conversations about installing Hoboken sea walls in strategic areas. Yes, that’s right – discussions happening and proposals are in the works.

FEMA flood map hoboken NJ
(Updated FEMA Map – download here)

Competition for Hoboken Sea Wall job?

We all know that Hoboken has two main “choke points” for tidal surges from the Hudson River to enter town. Uptown near 1600 Park – and downtown south of the Lackawanna Terminal.

And guess who has a substantial amount of property in one of those areas? The Rockefeller Group. They own several blocks of prime Real Estate right in the line of fire.

So you can imagine what happened next. They’re right in the middle of the action, and have been involved with this Hoboken sea wall proposal. I happened to get a look at the proposed Hoboken Sea Wall plans drawn up by The Rockefeller Group this week – see approximations below.

Hoboken Sea Wall downtown flooding
(Note: Drawn from memory and may not be exact. The final design has not been determined.)

Would 2 walls do the trick? Rockefeller thinks so

Without complex flooding models or other high-tech simulations, Rockefeller used simple elevation maps and the concept behind tidal flooding. They came up with a solution for a four or five foot Hoboken sea wall in two locations:

  • Uptown around the perimeter of the NW, and
  • Downtown near the inlet just to the south of the train terminal.

They said that those were the only two places that were breached during the hurricane, and that the other locations had elevation in their favor (and is why they didn’t flood).

I heard numbers being discussed for this solution of around $30 million dollars or more – and that it’s possible some or all of this cost would be in the form of a federal grant.

Hoboken Sea Wall uptown flooding
(Note: Drawn from memory and may not be exact. The final design has not been determined.)

Stevens and RSA Protective Tech want the job too!

In case you missed it – this past December, Hoboken’s Stevens Institute of Technology, along with a company called RSA Protective Technologies published an article about a “flood wall invention” they came up with.

The article read more like a fear mongering “sales pitch” to convince the public and future customers that their solution has validity. What caught my attention was this quote:

“Cities are going to have to answer a critical question: “What do we want to protect ourselves from – the 100 year storm or the 10,000 year storm? Storms of the future will be more frequent and more intense. So, when you compare the cost of the flood wall system to the costs of remediation after a storm or the costs of other storm protection alternatives, it no longer seems like such a large investment.”

We can barely predict the weather THREE DAYS in advance – and this guy is guaranteeing the strength of “storms of the future?” And why did he choose to embellish with the “10,000 year storm?” Did “Billion year storm” sound too far out there? Anything to sell a flood wall, right? Fear tactics is more like it.

The proposed cost is $15 million dollars per mile.

RSA Flood wall system proposed in Hoboken NJ
(Holy robotic, retractable walls, Batman!)

Would Hoboken sea walls even be necessary?

Will Hoboken Flood Walls workWe have a couple things at play here.

So many people have bought into this “global warming” meme that it has clouded their judgment. Now when someone is quoted as saying that the future looks grim in terms of weather, people just swallow it whole.

We have a very rare type of storm affect our area, and now we should expect it every season?

We only a have hundred years of weather data, and we’re expected to take any of it at face value?

Again, look at Hoboken. It’s been here for a very long time, and has persevered just fine. Sure, a few hiccups here and there – but those are the risks of living so close to a major body of water. What next, A GIANT DOME around the whole city?

Why are we always looking for “protection” from our government anyway?

If this Hoboken sea wall does get built – does it come with a guarantee? If it doesn’t work will homeowners get reimbursed for everything they lost?

Just remember other fear based actions in history – 9/11 brought Homeland Security, “Weapons of Mass Destruction” brought a 10 year war, one nut brings on gun control and so on. Why does the public fall for it every time – and fail to recognize the pattern? Why the irrational knee-jerk reaction to every crisis? And those that look for profit or control each time? Think of who enables them. YOU.

In the end – if the Feds want to give us $30 million bucks so we can build our Hoboken sea wall for freewith no impact on property taxpayersthen go for it. But I think that money would be better spent fixing the sewer system, all Hoboken roads, and maybe the parks Zimmer promised and never delivered.

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14 Comments on "Would Hoboken Sea Walls work?"

2 years 9 months ago

I think I sea wall will help, but I don’t think it’s the best solution. Parts of Hoboken flood during major rain storms that have nothing to do with the Hudson River overflowing. The city needs more wet weather pumps (and have backup generators!). Hoboken only installed one because the cost was so high even though experts stated we needed 4 pumps. Well after $10 mllion damage from Hurricane Sandy makes a few million for another pump seem well worth it!

joey maxim
2 years 9 months ago

Seems the sea wall in Belmar with it’s large stones never work.Water seeks it’s level in any area. No Hoboken is not the shore area but,remember Hoboken is below sea level..Recall
the levies in New Orleans? It is what it is. Act of providence? Summer isn’t here yet.lots of
sunshine please.[quote comment=”219490″]I think I sea wall will help, but I don’t think it’s the best solution. Parts of Hoboken flood during major rain storms that have nothing to do with the Hudson River overflowing. The city needs more wet weather pumps (and have backup generators!). Hoboken only installed one because the cost… Read more »

Build smarter
2 years 9 months ago

A walled Hoboken is not the answer. Re-thinking engineered infrastructure to be more dynamic is the smart way of approaching this situation. Using a combination of dynamic ecological stormwater systems will help Hoboken’s flooding.

Traditional engineering will stop someone’s problem and make it someone else’s. I can’t wait to hear what Jersey City and Weehawkin say about this proposal.

2 years 9 months ago

Elliot Bay Sea Wall replacement project phase 1 bonding cost $240 Million, this seawall is only 7,000 feet long in Seattle. Total cost will be $800 Million.

2 years 9 months ago

The Advisory Base Flood Elevation FEMA map you show an image of had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy, actually. These Advisory maps were in the works well before the storm. FEMA only released them earlier than intended to speed up the rebuilding process by giving people a sense of what they need to rebuild to. They were supposed to be released last 2013. NJ has since adopted them, as well, although FEMA does not plan to for at least another 18-24 months since there needs to be a public comment period.

2 years 9 months ago

This is hilarious. A sea wall? Okay, does whoever is in charge of this know that Hoboken is way below sea level already? if we get a sea wall, it’s going to break during any storm, just like the street on 14th and River Road did, and just like Pier A near Sinatra Park did. I’m 23 years old, and I have lived here my entire life.

Not once have I ever seen the back streets of Hoboken flood except for the project area because the sewage system there is horrible and is not taken care of.

How about we… Read more »