Superstorm Sandy Damage New Jersey

Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880

NJ Environmentalists Say More Needs To Be Done To Protect Flood-Prone Areas

October 26, 2018 - 5:02 pm

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- It’s been nearly six years since Hurricane Sandy, and environmentalists say New Jersey hasn’t done enough to prepare for another major storm. 

Gov. Phil Murphy has made verbal commitments to fighting climate change and rising sea levels, but it's not enough, says Jeff Tittel with the NJ Sierra Club.

"We didn't really elevate or really protect many of these vital pieces of infrastructure like water and sewer lines, gas line and the boardwalks," he says. "There's a study done last year  that said that we're now 17 times more likely to have another storm event as bad as Sandy as we were at the time of Sandy."

A Rutgers study finds sea levels may rise almost three feet by the end of the century. Tittel says fish are living in storm drains and roads go underwater when there's a full moon, and he says there's an increased spread of salt water intrusion because reservoir levels are so low.

The problems can't be solved overnight, but Tittel says progress can be made if Gov. Murphy undoes some of the weaker regulations on water protections imposed by his predecessor.

"Gov. (Chris) Christie closed the Office of Climate Change and the Office of Climate Adaptation, and Gov. Murphy could re-open those offices and start moving forward on not only reversing some of those rules that Christie weakened but move forward on other things to help make us more resilient," Tittel said. 

He also suggests restoring wetlands, tidal marshes and stream corridors.

Meanwhile, officials have approved a $230 million plan to protect Hoboken, Jersey City and Weehawken from the type of flooding seen during Sandy. The plan calls for flood walls protecting neighborhoods, a NJ Transit rail yard, a hospital, and police and fire stations.