Superstorm Sandy leads to vast storm-proofing enhancements to Hoboken's Path system

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ByToni Yates via WABC logo
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
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In the 10 years since Superstorm Sandy, Port Authority has enhanced Hoboken and the Path system with its storm-proofing efforts. Toni Yates has more on the enhancements.

HOBOKEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- As Eyewitness News marks 10 years since Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Tri-State area, we take a look at Hoboken's rebound and what the city is doing to prevent another disaster.

Ten years ago, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson in Hoboken and the Path were choked offline by the river's surging tide. Sandy was unstoppable.

Path trains were down for more than a week. Restoring full service took 119 days.

"It's not that we didn't have flood protection measures in place before Sandy, it's just that they proved to be inadequate," said Josh DeFlorio, Chief of Resilience and Sustainability for the Port Authority.

That was round one. While we hope there is never again another super storm like Sandy, if there is, round two will most likely go to the Port Authority with the ironclad changes it's made to protect the Path system.

Josh DeFlorio, Chief of Resilience and Sustainability for the Port Authority, leads the agency's storm-proofing efforts. Bank vault-like doors seal off the stairwells watertight.

They have three of these doors. Without them, during Sandy, the river flooded the tubes with zero resistance.

ALSO READ | Study reveals long-lasting effects of stress on babies born during Superstorm Sandy

As for the elevator, its mechanisms were so penetrable back then, it became an open spout. But not anymore. It's now surrounded by aquarium thick glass and waterproof planks lock in to seal the doorway.

"It's meant to hold back flood waters pressing against it to above the awning," DeFlorio said.

Clarelle DeGraff is Director and General Manager of the Path. She says more than a billion dollars were spent on upgrades at all the Path stations.

One of the more tedious tasks in the days after Sandy was getting trains moving with train signals down.

"So, we actually had to position signal maintainers at specific locations that would allow the trains to pass through," DeGraff said.

Nearly all the substations are back online. The last will come back next year. The agency works closely with the National Weather Service, especially when it comes to rising tides -- their primary threat.

"So, when we know that the tide is gonna be above, say three or four feet, we know we need to start moving, start closing doors and start shutting down the elevators," DeGraff said.

Sandy was one of those hundred-year superstorms that no longer appear to have the courtesy of staying away that long. Many experts blame climate change, but the Port Authority is now laser focused on the lesson.

"We really needed to step up our game and really make flood protection a program and a mission for the agency," DeFlorio said.

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