Community Resilience: One Approach in New Jersey
Publication Year: 2017

Community Resilience: One Approach in New Jersey


Whytlaw, J. “Community Resilience: One Approach in New Jersey.” HAZNET: The Magazine of the Canadian Risks and Hazards Network. Vol. 7 No. 2 Fall 2015.

Hurricane Irene moved through New Jersey in late August 2011 as a Category 1 storm. Over two days, up to 10 inches of rainfall led to record- breaking floods on many streams throughout the Gar- den State (USGS New Jersey Water Science Center), causing major flooding and extensive damage to both private and public property. Just over one year later, Superstorm Sandy, an extra-tropical cyclone, made landfall in New Jersey in late October 2012

The combination of Irene and Sandy over such a short period of time was a game changer for many New Jersey communities. Prior to the two storms, the concept of “sustainability” to many New Jersey municipalities meant decisions on land use planning with regard to open space, redevelopment of existing brownfield sites or the highly contentious afford- able housing debate. Few at the local level were concerned about the impact of climate change and what sea level rise in 2050 or 2100 meant for the coastal communities in the State. Historic inland flooding throughout the State had prompted planners and water resource managers working in riparian areas to pay focused attention on measures that could be implemented to mitigate high impact flooding from regularly occurring storm events. Yet, even in these cases, projections of future conditions were rarely involved in those planning efforts and were often dismissed as being hard to scientifically calculate. Following Irene and Sandy, the concept of “resilience” became a pressing and operative priority for many New Jersey municipalities. Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy provided a mechanism to begin the tough conversations with communities in New Jersey about how to understand their risks to future storm events.