Why Does Hoboken Flood?
Hoboken was once an island, with tidal lands to the west. Today, some areas of Hoboken are still at low elevations and below high tide level. When heavy rain coincides with a high tide of the Hudson River, water cannot drain into the river, causing some streets to flood. A flood pump on Observer Highway was completed by the North Hudson Sewerage Authority in 2012 which allows for expelling water into the river, and it is has helped to alleviate, although not eliminate, flooding in Southwest Hoboken. A second flood pump is planned which will be located at 11th Street to alleviate flooding in Northwest Hoboken. More information is available at the North Hudson Sewerage Authority website.
Residents parked on the street during the day are encouraged to monitor weather reports and move vehicles from flood-prone areas if there is the potential for flooding. Vehicles in these areas can suffer severe damage as a result of flooding. Residents may wish to subscribe to weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
Below is a tide chart for the Hudson River just north of Hoboken (Weehawken) which indicates the times for low and high tide.
The map to the right indicates areas that most frequently flood during heavy rains during high tide as well as common locations of barricades used to close streets. Actual flooding will depend on the weather and other conditions and may include other areas not included in the map.
Residents concerned about potential overnight flooding are reminded that overnight parking from 8pm to 8am is available in Municipal Garages B and D and Midtown for $5. Regular garage fees will apply during the day. At times, the City may provide reduced rate parking in certain garages when there is the potential for flooding. To receive these notices, register for the Nixle alert system by visiting http://hobokennj.gov/alerts/
When it rains, it pours
According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, from 1958 to 2012, very heavy precipitation events have increased by 71% in the Northeast. These downpour events can overwhelm the sewer system, particularly at high tide.
Best Available Flood Hazard Data
Before Hurricane Sandy, FEMA had begun a coastal flood study to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports for portions of coastal New York and New Jersey using improved methods and data to better reflect coastal flood risk. After Sandy, FEMA released Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps for certain communities based on the partially completed flood study which were designed to help in rebuilding and recovery efforts. After the completion of the ABFE maps, FEMA released (and continues to release) preliminary work maps for certain communities which include the full results of the coastal flood study. Preliminary FIRMs and FIS reports, which will follow the release of the preliminary work maps for communities receiving those products, are also now in the process of being released.
This Preliminary FIRM Data Viewer allows users to view preliminary FIRM and FIS report data for Hudson County, NJ. Click here to use the Preliminary FIRM Data Viewer.
What is the City doing about flooding?
- A comprehensive water management project that will protect Hoboken, Weehawken and northern Jersey City from flooding has won $230 million of federal funding as part of the Rebuild by Design resiliency competition. Click here for more information.
- The U.S. Department of Interior and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded the City of Hoboken a $250,000 grant for the final design engineering of Block 12 – an approximately one acre property which will be the first phase of a Southwest Park. The funding from the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program will assist with incorporating stormwater management capacity into the new park as part of a broader strategy to alleviate the severity of flooding in the area. Construction is expected to begin late 2015. Click here for more information.
- Hoboken’s first flood pump was completed in early 2012.
- On May 15, 2013, Mayor Zimmer announced a partnership with North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) to build Hoboken’s second wet weather flood pump in order to further alleviate Hoboken’s 200 year flooding problem. The City and NHSA are working together to apply for a low interest loan from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust. The City would pay for and own the pump, while NHSA has agreed to pay for the engineering, permitting, loan application preparation, and operations and maintenance, a contribution estimated at nearly $5 million over 20 years. The pump, with a capacity of 50 million gallons per day, would further alleviate flooding in Western Hoboken.
- Hoboken was one of 8 cities nationwide selected as a partner for the RE.invest Initiative, an effort funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to help cities develop resilient urban stormwater infrastructure systems. Click here for more information.
- Hoboken was one of three recipients of a grant from Together North Jersey for technical assistance to develop a Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan, which has been completed. The plan identifies stormwater management and flood control strategies, strategizes key updates to the aging water system, looks for ways to improve the resiliency of transit infrastructure, and identifies important steps to help plan for climate adaptation.
- Through the Planning Board and input from the public, the City is developing a sustainability plan (Green Building & Environmental Sustainability Plan Element of the Master Plan) that will provide guidance for stormwater management, utilities, infrastructure and other sustainability priorities.
- In addition to applying for funding that would enable the City to create detention systems under newly purchased open space, the City is pursuing a variety of other green initiatives to address flooding. Hoboken was recently awarded a grant to install rain garden curb extensions to capture stormwater runoff and has incorporated rain gardens in designs of new parks.
- The City legalized the use of rain barrels in 2011 and has required the use of green roofs in redevelopment areas to minimize runoff. In conjunction with the Hoboken Green Team and funding from Sustainable Jersey, the City hosted two rain barrel workshops and provided fifty free 55-gallon rain barrels to residents.
- The City has adopted changes to the zoning code to facilitate and encourage the use of green roofs.
- The Shade Tree Commission completed a pilot program to expand tree pits and install new street trees along Washington Street between 1stStreet and 2nd Street, setting standards for other property owners. The Commission will launch a program to encourage more property owners to install street trees, which play an important role in reducing stormwater runoff.
- On December 18, 2013 the City Council approved ordinance Z-263 which amended chapter 104 of the city’s code for Flood Damage Prevention to reflect updates recommended by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s latest revised model ordinance. The city already participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The city has submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Administration to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) program. Communities participating in the CRS program may lower their residents’ flood insurance premiums by as much as forty five percent.
After flooding subsides, there may be sludge remaining on streets and sidewalks. You may use the form below to report problem areas and request cleaning. You may also call the Department of Environmental Services at 201-420-2049 or the North Hudson Sewerage Authority at 201-963-6043 to request clearing out catch basins.