Could flooding have been minimized?

Questions surface about Hoboken flooding after Hurricane Sandy

Regardless of how the city of Hoboken fared with the resulting flooding from Hurricane Sandy – as the days pass, questions are surfacing about the “bigger picture,” and whether some or most of the problems that we endured could have been prevented or at the very least minimized.

1600 Park Waterfront in Hoboken too low

Retaining walls too low at 1600 Park in Hoboken?

As many of you know – partial work at 1600 Park had already been done and completed earlier this year (the walkway around). And the Mayor had also indicated that the retaining walls could be lowered for the park itself. Well, it seems now as if the entire park should be re-thought completelyincluding the walkway.

Zimmer lowers retaining walls at 1600 park in Hoboken NJ

It’s quite possible that because of the low retaining walls along the waterfront allowed a deluge of water to decimate many uptown businesses. The waterfront is one of our only defenses against ADDITIONAL flooding that already happens because of our combined outflow sewage system. Perhaps our “wall” should be taller? Would an extra four or five feet along the waterfront have saved many businesses? Should our entire waterfront be re-thought before more parks are built?

1600 Park Waterfront in Hoboken too low 1

What about that pump? Did it malfunction?

Back in 2007, Dawn Zimmer’s big campaign cornerstone was about all the flooding that took place downtown – depicting Katrina scenes with Dawn saying “Are We Next?” The entire basis of her campaign was that “flooding is her priority” and that she would take steps so that Hoboken never flooded again.

Zimmer has even gone on to say in sugar-coated press releases, that because of that single pump downtown, that Hoboken would never flood as it had in the past (despite Stevens engineers indicating that a single pump is essentially useless). However – there are no horns tooting harmoniously for the pump this time around…

Oddly, there was buzz on the streets over the past couple days – that some possible human error (either at one of the sewage treatment facilities – or the pump station itself) may have caused additional flooding to back up through toilets and drains – rather than solely from rising water – making our situation even worse.

We doubt that for the most part because our sewage system is so poorly designed, that it doesn’t take much to flood to begin with. But if there was indeed some incompetence involved, you can bet that it’ll be covered up nicely nonetheless.

What can realistically be done – to mitigate our issues here in Hoboken on a timely basis?

Hoboken Flood Pump ineffective during hurricane sandy

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Monday, November 5, 2012 2:57 pm

The new pump station can handle 75 million gallons a day. I read that the North Hudson Sewage Authority estimated there was over 500 million gallons of water in Hoboken’s flooded streets.

What happened was basically a tsnumani. Unless Hoboken constructed tsunamni walls like they do it many parts of Japan, there really is nothing that can be done to prevent 14′ storm surge from flooding the city. While having seawalls surround parts of the waterfront would be nice, it’s the weakest link the the chain that matters. Much of the flooding actually came from across the NJ Transit railyards from the Morris Canal.

Monday, November 5, 2012 2:33 pm

I’m not sure that raising the height of the retaining walls would make a bit of difference with regards the extensive flooding that took place. The bigger issue is with the combined sewer/runoff system Hoboken has in place, such that water pushes back up through the system into the western sections of town. To the extent that this system isn’t addressed, other efforts will not suffice and are likely doomed to fail. While other pump installations might mitigate the extent of flooding in the future, I doubt that they would have prevented the extent of flooding we faced, particularly given reports of 32 foot high wave activity in NY Harbor–that water simply pushed back up into Hoboken’s system.

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