Resilience in Jersey City, NJ
In Jersey City, several risk factors including the city’s low elevation, high flood risk, dense population, limited green space, large number of impervious surfaces and aging storm and waste water infrastructure make the city highly vulnerable to storms and coastal flooding. In the years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast in 2012, Jersey City’s Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Emergency Management have made significant improvements to their disaster preparedness strategies. In partnership with the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA), they recently piloted a Public Resiliency Education Program (PREP) to improve the emergency planning and preparedness plans of its public housing residents. Many JCHA sites are particularly prone to flood risk due to their geographic location in the city, and residents in public housing generally have limited means to evacuate or seek shelter in the event of a storm. The PREP pilot proved to be successful, reaching many of the city’s most vulnerable residents and empowering them with the tools to create their own disaster preparations and plans.
Through the Leadership in Community Resilience program, the city is now embarking on plans to expand this resiliency planning dialogue and PREP beyond JCHA residents to include more households and neighborhoods, and to incorporate feedback from participants and organizations back into the program. This cross-departmental effort will work with local block associations and community groups to distribute surveys and other materials at neighborhood meetings, spread the word about emergency preparedness, and engage residents through a “5 Steps to Neighborhood Preparedness” guide.
The city of Jersey City is planning to hold eight community workshops and planning sessions over the course of the year and, simultaneously, is aiming to solicit feedback from a variety of community-based organizations and businesses to independently evaluate the city’s emergency and preparedness plans. In a region with an increasing likelihood of storms and coastal flooding, Jersey City strives to help residents feel safe and prepared to withstand the dangers of these events, and ensure the city can take a more coordinated approach to resilience-building and emergency preparedness.