News

Hoboken Mayor Zimmer On A Quest For Protective Walls For Her City

She Says What Happened During Sandy Can't Happen Again, But Some Object
A National Guard vehicle navigates a flooded Hoboken street after superstorm Sandy - Oct. 31, 2012 (credit: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

A National Guard vehicle navigates a flooded Hoboken street after superstorm Sandy – Oct. 31, 2012 (credit: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

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Superstorm Sandy

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Hoboken continues to recover nearly four months after Superstorm Sandy, and now the flooding from the waterfront is a priority for the town.

As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported Wednesday, during Sandy, streets were turned into rivers and homes were inundated. Hoboken city officials said they want to prevent that from happening again.

“We can’t raise our homes on pilings. We can’t have sand dunes out in front of Hoboken,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said. “But we need a way to protect the city.”

Mayor Zimmer said that protection includes a proposed $100 million flood control system, featuring electronic gates, landscaped berms, underground pumps, and two concrete flood walls built to the north and south of town.

“An integrated solution that could protect the entire city rather than each individual homeowner trying to protect their own home,” Zimmer said Wednesday.

“Everything that we can do to prevent that rainwater from going back down into the sewer system will help to alleviate the flooding,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer also proposed a system of generators for essential services.

“Each building have like maybe an LED system so that if you’re a senior who really needs help that you could flip that switch and when the National Guard comes through they can see you,” she said.

She said the lesson learned is that people just aren’t going to evacuate.

“That’s just the reality and you have to deal with the reality,” she said.

The next step, Zimmer said, is getting Federal Emergency Management Agency, Gov. Chris Christie, and others on board.

“We’re going to protect Hoboken,” she said, adding that she wants her city to be a model for bigger cities.

“I’m doing a lot of advocacy right now. I’m meeting with FEMA representatives. I’m going down and meeting with the state,” Zimmer said.

But the idea of a flood wall is controversial. Critics, and even mayors of other towns, said there is a danger in protecting one town, over another.

“One person’s solution could exacerbate the problem for their neighbors,” said Mary Marvin, mayor of Bronxville in Westchester County.

Bronxville is about 30 miles north of Hoboken, and has a flooding issue of its own.

The Brooklands Co-op, just across the village border in Yonkers, wants to build a 10-foot flood wall that Marvin said could redirect water into her community. She is afraid Hoboken just might do the same.

“I mean, it’s just sort of easy science, that if the water is not going to Hoboken, that same water is going somewhere,” Marvin said.

What do you think Hoboken should do to prepare for future storm? Share your ideas below.