It's been two years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, wreaking havoc on New Jersey and New York communities. Hundreds of residents were displaced from their homes; some still waiting to return to their homes.
Questions that still remain are, would New Jersey be ready for the next storm? How do we effectively prepare ourselves and become more resilient?
Resiliency is the ability to overcome the challenges of storm-preparedness.
Why do we need to worry about being resilient?
Simply put, climate change is real and it's happening all around us. Stronger hurricanes, severe heat waves, more droughts, and rising sea levels all have enormous implications on our planet. Climate change can have disastrous effects on our water supply, health, agriculture, energy infrastructure, coastal areas, plants, animals, and ecosystems. One of the immediate problems affecting communities is flooding.
New Jersey's Accomplishments Since Hurricane Sandy
- New Jersey has ramped up the Blue Acres floodplain acquisition program. Over 320 homes throughout the state have been purchased or are in the process of being purchased.
- The NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) have created the Energy Resilience Bank (ERB) which will provide funding to critical facilities such as wastewater treatment plants to have an independent power source in case of a power outage
- Creation of toolkits to help municipalities such as the Coastal Community Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping Protocol, and the Getting to Resilience tools. However, we do not know how much these tools are actually being promoted to municipalities
However, New Jersey's Shortcomings Include:
- NJ has not provided clear leadership on how to address climate change and sea level rise
- Lack of a completed vulnerability assessment
- Failure to address sea level rise and climate change as state wide concerns (Seen in actions like backing out of the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI)
- Lack of a state climate change or sea level rise task force and long term plan (In 2013, NY released its "A Stronger More Resilient NY" plan, including over 250 recommendations for rebuilding communities and increasing resiliency in the long term.)
What You Can Do to Help
- Call your local congressman and ask what is being done to help NJ grow stronger.
- Green infrastructure solutions can offset flooding impacts. Implement green infrastructure strategies such as planting a tree or installing a rain barrel. Learn more about green infrastructure here.
Preparing for a Hurricane
For homeowners, Floodsmart.gov lists a disaster supply kit here including items and the suggested quantity when preparing for a hurricane. Learn more here.