Everyone in Hoboken knows that this town can get a little soggy from time to time. We all have stories—whether it’s arriving at the PATH station one rainy morning to find water lapping gently against the steps, or that hilarious time your house was inundated with four feet of water and had to be completely rehabbed (that was me!), or the time you went to get your car after a storm and discovered it was sitting for some time in several feet of brackish, foul-smelling water.
As the saying goes: Good times.
And the Pumps Came
And, maybe, past times. As has been noted everywhere in a tone of near-disbelief, we had significant rain in Hoboken over the last few weeks, and no significant flooding followed. In the Nor’Easter that hit us in late January, the river rose nearly five feet, but most of the commonly-flooded areas of Hoboken remained flood-free.
This is due to the new H-5 Flood Pump that came online just in time, all part of the city’s “Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge” plan for flood mitigation. It cost a lot of money and tore up a lot of streets, but at least it seems like we’re at a point where the city won’t turn into a lake every time it rains more than a few inches.
More to Do
That being said, it should be noted that if the river had risen a few more feet—certainly not an impossibility in a bigger storm—we might not have been so lucky. And the train station did experience flooding, even if most of the streets remained dry (well, sort of; it was raining, after all). Which is ominous, since the plan the State chose for Hoboken’s flood mitigation last year was described as offering “the least protection,” in response to community outrage over the possibility of flood walls blotting out the river views.
No one wants to wall Hoboken up and lose those views, of course, but whether or not the current system of pumps, cisterns, and release reservoirs will be able to handle bigger storms remains an unknown. The current plan, which will kick into high gear construction this year, calls for 10 foot walls at each end of the waterfront. They’ll be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, which also means they’ll be less effective. But you can’t have everything, and if the recent performance of the new pumps are anything, they’re reasons to be positive.
The city is certainly undergoing some serious infrastructure improvements. Between the new pumps, the Washington Street makeover, and the new fiber optic cabling going in under the street, we’re slowly moving into the 21st century. Let’s hope it’s a dry one.