Hurricane Sandy left the city of Hoboken, New Jersey 80 percent under water. The Rebuild by Design (RBD) project was given $920 million in federal assistance to help make sure it doesn't happen again. $230 million is designated for flood control projects in Hoboken and two other neighboring New Jersey communities.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer said there is no time to waste, as the city of 50,000 inhabitants plans for future storms.
“It’s really a historic opportunity for the city of Hoboken to comprehensively protect from the flooding. Not only from the storm surge, but also from the flash flooding," she said.
Hoboken is one of Rebuild by Design's six pilot projects. The umbrella group supervises international teams of experts and has designed a plan for Hoboken called “Resist, Delay, Store and Discharge”.
The plan, designed by a mostly Dutch team, includes building berms, more parkland to absorb water, storing water in different parts of the city, and citizen greening projects.
“We have to change the way we live and we have to become more greener and we also have to work on large scale infrastructure that will protect us from the storms that will happen more and more often,“ explained Amy Chester, RBD's managing editor.
In fact, there have been five significant flood events since Sandy, leading Zimmer and the Dutch team to focus on the big issues.
“The $230 million is going to focus on the infrastructure needs, so the first part is the master planning process," Zimmer explained. "This plan is something where it’s a four part water management strategy.
" What we are doing, we are comprehensively protecting the city. So, it’s to resist the water from coming in, both from the north, where we are standing right here, Weehawken-Hoboken cove," she added. "From the South where the water’s come in and then to delay the water from even going down into the sewer system.
Holly Licht, a government administrator on the project, called International participation a key to the planning.
“I think the international nature of the proposal was very important to us. Because as I said before, the United States is relatively late to coming to this way of thinking about resiliency and how vulnerable coastlines are," Licht said, adding that it is valuable to be able to tap into the experience and knowledge base of people who have built real projects for resiliency in other parts of the world.
By collecting the best talent and ideas, the Rebuild by Design team hopes it will find a way to literally "hold back the sea".