State Departments and Agencies have incorporated strategy and planning in every aspect of the recovery process in an effort to rebuild back better and more resilient than before. In January 2013, the State established by emergency rule the best available data from FEMA’s latest flood maps, plus one foot of freeboard, as the general rebuilding standard to adapt to changing flood hazard risks and corresponding federal flood insurance rates. Federal agencies subsequently adopted this standard for all reconstruction activities funded by the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation.
Early in the recovery, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management’s Disaster Recovery Bureau began providing technical assistance to local communities to help navigate FEMA’s Public Assistance program, particularly focusing on “406 mitigation” design opportunities to rebuild more resiliently. Read More The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs also launched the Post Sandy Planning Assistance Grant Program, which provides communities with planning grants to enable the development of strategic recovery plans, preparation of community design standards specific to flood hazard areas, and analyses of local land use practices to facilitate a smart and efficient rebuilding process at the local level. As part of the program, communities have also been encouraged to combine resources to pursue regional projects and solutions where feasible. Read More
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management also launched a planning initiative under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to provide eligible counties with grants to develop multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plans, incorporating municipal perspective to address regional vulnerabilities. Read More As part of the State’s hazard mitigation planning efforts, a cross-agency effort was initiated to identify regional resiliency opportunities by examining the locations and characteristics of critical infrastructure including drinking water, wastewater, transportation, transit, energy and communication systems. Studying where multiple infrastructure systems intersect and overlap enables the State to highlight and implement synergistic mitigation initiatives.
To examine energy resiliency, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management have been collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to study the State’s energy vulnerabilities, and identify opportunities to leverage commercially available technologies to address back-up power generation needs at critical facilities. New Jersey is encouraging the use of innovative technologies – including combined heat and power, fuel cells, and solar power with storage capability – which combine energy efficiency and greater resiliency.
In addition to collaborating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a $20 million comprehensive resiliency study funded through the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also partnered with six universities to devise flood mitigation strategies for particularly flood-prone communities located near the Hudson River, Hackensack River, Arthur Kill, Barnegat Bay and Delaware Bay. The studies focus on repetitive flooding regions that are not already being addressed by current or planned U.S. Army Corps projects and are being coordinated with communities to incorporate local perspective and data. Read More
Additional information on some of the State’s resiliency initiatives is highlighted below.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) are working together to advance beach and dune construction projects that will reduce risk to life, property and infrastructure by rebuilding 44 miles of New Jersey coastline and providing the State with the most comprehensive and continuous coastal protection system it has ever had. To secure outstanding easements required by the Army Corps, Governor Christie took aggressive action by signing an Executive Order that authorizes the State to secure easements, not provided voluntarily, through eminent domain. The Executive Order also created the Office of Flood Hazard Risk Reduction Measures to coordinate that effort.
Using federal disaster relief resources, NJ DEP began implementing a $300 million buyout program to acquire properties from willing sellers in repetitive loss areas. Approximately 1,000 homes impacted by Sandy will be targeted by the buyout program, in addition to another 300 repetitively flood-damaged homes located in the Passaic River Basin. Properties acquired by the State will eventually be razed and maintained as open space, thus reducing the risk of future flood waters, while keeping people and property out of harm’s way.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs created housing programs designed to incorporate resilience and mitigation measures into reconstruction efforts. Two programs in particular, the RREM program and the HMGP Elevation Program provide grants to help homeowners elevate their homes to provide better flood protection and more affordable flood insurance premiums.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has allocated $50 million to create the HMGP Local Projects program, which will enable county and local governments across all 21 counties to pursue regional and local resiliency projects. These funds can be used to advance drainage, flood control, energy resiliency and other hazard mitigation projects.
A multi-agency team from the State has been collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to comprehensively study the energy needs of critical facilities throughout the State, and to identify creative and cost-effective alternative energy solutions. In coordination with the Board of Public Utilities, NREL conducted a state-wide survey of public buildings and leveraged existing data and resources maintained by the State to inform a locally-tailored analysis of energy resilience and efficiency for local communities. To realize energy resilience projects, the State announced $25 million in HMGP Energy Allocations to municipalities, counties, and other critical facilities that can be used to support a variety of alternative energy solutions — including microgrids, solar power with battery back-up, and natural gas-powered emergency generators — technologies that will allow critical facilities to operate even if the power grid fails.
NJ Transit teamed with DOE and Sandia National Laboratories to design “NJ TransitGrid,” a first-of-its-kind transportation microgrid capable of providing highly reliable power to transit operations in densely populated areas of New Jersey. NJ TransitGrid would enable NJ Transit to sustain transit operations in the event of a larger electrical grid failure, allowing for continued service and movement of commuters across the most traveled portion of rail lines in the nation, including critical evacuation routes from Manhattan.
New Jersey is taking action to address emergency liquid fuel challenges highlighted during Superstorm Sandy by building resilience in fuel supply and distribution. The State is making $7 million in HMGP funds available to support the purchase of generators or permanent connection points for mobile generators for approximately 250 fuel stations located along key thoroughfares throughout the State. In addition, NJ OEM is acquiring a strategic cache of emergency generators that can be deployed during a major power outage to critical assets such as shelters, hospitals, public safety facilities, and retail fuel stations. The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to explore opportunities to increase the resiliency of the State’s petroleum storage and distribution and supply systems.