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Triple Play: How N.J. is becoming more resilient

Triple Play is a weekly NJBIZ feature that asks top executives in New Jersey to talk about three things related to their industry.

Andrew Raichle, vice president of Matrix New World in Florham Park, says its been more than four years since New Jersey discovered it was exceptionally vulnerable to coastal storm events, when Hurricane Sandy hit the state, causing $75 billion in damage to the region. This “new normal” demands a drastic change in thinking.

We asked Andrew how New Jersey is becoming more resilient.

Many of our most valuable economic resources (ports, rail, tunnels, industry, residential) sit in vulnerable floodplains. The engineering community is working to preserve, protect and enhance these at-risk assets through physical improvements and storm response planning. We are addressing flooding’s impact, focusing on sea level rise, weather pattern changes and the importance of clean water supplies.

Government has stepped up. In 2013, FEMA began to update flood mapping. The state has adopted regulatory controls, such as the Flood Hazard Act, International Building Code and revised Coastal Rules, as well as infrastructure investments.  NJ Transit and the NJDEP have been lead agencies of change.  And state and federal governments have partnered in two large-scale resiliency initiatives in the Meadowlands and Hoboken.

Business has responded. At least two-thirds of warehouses in the state’s major ports are located in floodplains. After Hurricane Sandy, the private marketplace has responded dramatically, recognizing the inherent risk and valuing properties and rents. Consequently, “flood proof” warehouses have become more valuable.  Owners and developers are redeveloping properties through such options as dry flood-proofing, site raising with fill and campus-wide levees.

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