The last two days, I’ve been in countless homes throughout Jersey City to see the damage from Ida firsthand. It’s been the same scene from Princeton to Whiton, to Woodlawn, to Oakland, to Country Village, to Downtown, as every home I visited has devastating loss to personal property, and it is nothing short of heartbreaking to see.
The biggest takeaway for me is that while we have more than $1 billion in Jersey City sewer upgrades already started/approved, it is also very clear to me the rate that storms are becoming more fierce and at a faster rate than anyone, or any city, can keep up with on the infrastructure front.
What we saw with Ida, and the amount of rain in that short amount of time, was remarkable, and it is very clear that the “100-year storm” (as the professionals call it) seems to be happening almost every year.
The positive is that it looks like there will be some federal assistance on the horizon, and there are things we can do on the local front to help further.
I wanted to highlight a couple of the most pressing efforts for me so that residents are clear about our administration’s allocation of resources around the challenges from climate change and major storm events.
First, when Congress passes the Federal Infrastructure Bill (which seems to be imminent), my commitment is that we will take the overall majority of the funds that are allocated towards Jersey City and we will devote those resources towards expediting our resiliency and climate action plan, particularly around sewers and pump stations.
This seems like the most reasonable step of “shovel-ready” projects to upgrade our infrastructure so that we can try and get ahead of the issues we are facing with climate change.
Secondly, it seems that President Biden took the first step yesterday with regards to allocating resources to Ida, similar to what was done by President Obama post Sandy.
Our hope (and understanding) is that over the next week we will see the same type of programs and resources post Sandy as I know our Senators are pushing.
We are ready on the local level to pivot Jersey City to allocate personnel at the Resident Response Center and Quality of Life Task Force to help residents access these dollars at the quickest rate possible.
Thirdly, we will continue implementing policies on the local level to help plan for the next several decades of climate change to protect our City.
The major legislative action in our Resiliency Plan was the Flood Overlay Zone which we enacted, and it is currently a requirement for any development in the flood zone to put in green infrastructure according to the Green Area Ratio.
We have also updated our Stormwater Ordinance, which will serve as long-term protection for residents and our MUA incentive program to construct more environmentally thoughtful. We will continue to push on this front and have Jersey City be a leader here.
Finally, right now on the local front, the biggest initiative that the City is currently working on regarding resiliency is in the Resilient Northeastern NJ project, which is identifying the most impactful actions to make Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark, and Bayonne more resilient to flooding and storm events.
I encourage you to get involved and make sure your voice and concerns are heard. The next public meeting will be in October, but you can provide input now at https://www.resilient-nj.com/.
It is heartbreaking to see the devastation in people’s homes that I visited, and I’m sure I’ll be in many more today, but you have my commitment that we will do everything as a City to help you recover.
I’m certain we will be able to not only navigate these tough times, but we will actually recover stronger and more resilient than ever before.
Jersey City Mayor
Editor’s note: A version of this editorial was also published on Mayor Fulop’s public Facebook page.