What all cities can learn from New Jersey 10 years after Hurricane Sandy

Fast Company: Hurricane Sandy dropped 500 million gallons of water on Hoboken. Here’s how the city is preparing for the next superstorm.

I’m standing on a patchwork of herringbone-patterned pavers in the middle of a park. As far as moments go, it’s a pretty uneventful one, but if I were made of raindrops coming down in heaps, I would be trickling down in between those pavers, draining through a bed of gravel, and slowly seeping into the soil below.

These pavers make up the floor of a one-acre park called Southwest Resiliency Park, located in the low-lying City of Hoboken, New Jersey. On a regular day, much like the day I’m visiting, the park looks like a typical public space with shaded benches, a lawn, and a busy dog run. But when the skies rip open above it, the park turns into a precious flood-management tool thanks to permeable pavers, rain gardens, a cistern for rainwater harvesting, and an underground detention system that can hold 200,000 gallons of stormwater runoff.

Ten years ago, the skies did rip open above Hoboken. On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy pummeled through New York harbor, toppling the region’s record wave heights with a monster 32.5-foot wave. The superstorm flooded 80% of Hoboken, knocked out its power grid for up to two weeks, and caused more than $100 million in damages. By virtue of its quirky topography, the city filled up like a bathtub. Read More >>