How Stevens Rallied to Help its Hometown Recover During the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
Sandy struck nearly without warning, completely flooding most of Hoboken's streets, causing power outages for weeks, damaging infrastructure and transportation systems and trapping residents in their homes. The highest surges of water washed nine feet higher over the city than normal river levels. Many residents found themselves unable to access drinking water or medical supplies.
That's when the Stevens community spraung into action.
Students helped evacuate the sick and injured, deliver supplies to residents, staff an emergency call center, organize donations, deliver water in high-rise buildings, unload food trucks, prepare meals for people taking refuge in city shelters and coordinate the activities of the National Guard and FEMA. Allison Outwater '15 headed the volunteer effort, directing thousands of volunteers, including more than 300 Stevens students who logged more than 2,000 volunteer hours in all assisting residents.
Faculty also became involved. Researchers from the university's Davidson Laboratory conducted on-campus seminars on storm prediction, protection and resiliency, and offered designs for protections to both Hoboken and its neighboring city of Jersey City. Stevens also signed contracts with NJ TRANSIT, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey and New York City officials to help better predict floods during future events and plan for disasters more proactively.
One year after the storm, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer officially recognized Stevens students for their service and volunteerism, presenting a plaque commemorating their invaluable assistance at a Hoboken City Council meeting.
And Stevens researchers continue to inform both the city and the region daily about river and tidal levels, as well as forecasts of surges and flooding.
"Most days, the Stevens Flood Advisory System is the first piece of information I check in the morning," notes Caleb Stratton, the chief resilience officer for the city. "Accurate records and projections of surge allow us to escalate our emergency operations in real time, and make informed decisions about the resources and communications that need to be shared with the community."