July 18, 2019

Message from Mayor Bhalla on yesterday's flooding in Hoboken

Yesterday’s storm was the heaviest rain event in over two years. In just 15 minutes an inch of rain fell, and the cumulative storm total reached almost two inches. Flooding occurred throughout Hoboken partially because of the intensity and duration of the rain event, but also because the storm struck at the worst possible time – during high tide. Localized street flooding was not unique to Hoboken, flooding occurred across the tri-state area.  

While we did experience significant flooding, here’s the good news – our flood pumps were operational and pumped out water throughout the duration of the storm. The H-1 and H-5 flood pumps, in operation since 2013 and 2015, pumped out approximately 15 million gallons of rainwater from our streets over four hours. Within 30 minutes to an hour of the end of the storm, the floodwater subsided, largely because of the effectiveness of the flood pumps. In the absence of these pumps, the depth and duration of flooding would have been more severe.

Although we are addressing flash flood events through a comprehensive strategy, the risks associated with flooding will never be entirely mitigated. The fact is, Hoboken was built before sewers and stormwater systems were separated. The process of separating the sewer system city-wide could cost upwards of a billion dollars or more. But, there are more cost-effective solutions to alleviate flooding that we are implementing, including:

NEW FLOOD PUMP: In addition to the H-1 and H-5 flood pumps, the City will be breaking ground on a new flood pump in September as a part of the Northwest Park. This third pump will assist in alleviating flooding in Northwest Hoboken.  

RESILIENCY PARKS: Recent open space projects include underground stormwater retention and surface green infrastructure to capture rainwater during storms. The Northwest Park will include the capacity to store at least 1.5 million gallons of rainwater, our recently opened 7th and Jackson park can store up to 470,000 gallons, the Southwest Park stores up to 200,000 gallons and the Southwest Park expansion will also have an underground storage system.

RAIN GARDENS: A number of green infrastructure projects have been installed throughout Hoboken that can absorb rainwater during storms. Rain gardens, like the 15 on Washington Street, as well as bioswales and cisterns, help keep rainwater out of the sewer system during storms that would otherwise end up as flood water on city streets.

POROUS PAVEMENT: New porous pavement behind City Hall, at Southwest Park, at the Hoboken Police Department and Fire Department headquarters helps keep rainwater out of the sewer system. Hoboken is planning for capital improvements like surface treatments that limit rainwater from entering the sewers.  

NEW TREES: Trees help reduce stormwater runoff, and in partnership with the shade tree commission, Hoboken has the goal of planting 1,000 new trees in 2020.

REBUILD BY DESIGN: The City has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on the $230 million Rebuild by Design project that will dramatically reduce flood risk from coastal storm surge events. The project is expected to begin construction in 2020 and conclude in 2022.

Taken together, Hoboken has a comprehensive plan to help mitigate the impact of storm surge flooding, and substantially reduce the impacts of chronic flooding events like the one from last night.  More information about these initiatives is available by clicking here: https://cityofhoboken.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=65c107f7e6984c4ca988c84ae406d27f