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Coastal Storms


Coastal Storms

: Hurricane Sandy on October 30 (NASA)Storms can cause significant impacts to our coasts, both to the built and natural environment. In an urban region like the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, the impacts to the built environment can also exacerbate the level of impact incurred by our natural systems.

Hurricane Sandy was a hugely destructive force in our region, due to its intense surge and size. For more detailed information about why Sandy was such a powerful storm, see our November 14 e-newsletter (pdf).

In addition to Hurricane Sandy, our region has experienced other recent storms. In 2011 alone, the estuary was affected by both storms Irene and Lee, which dumped record-breaking amounts of rain on the Hudson River Watershed, the impacts of which were discussed at a 2012 conference at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

A large sediment plume as the Schoharie Creek meets the Mohawk river, after storms Irene and Lee (credit: Gary Wall/USGS)
While these were record-breaking storm events, sea level rise and an increasing frequency of extreme storm events caused by climate change are only likely to worsen events like these, raising the baseline of pressures on the environmental resources we depend on. Therefore, we will be meeting with our partners on December 12, 2012 to discuss the important issues of 1) the environmental impacts of the storm and 2) how we should respond as a Program, partnership, and region in a way that benefits both human and ecosystem health and safety.  As we continue these discussions over the next weeks and months, we will post more information to this web page. Please direct any questions to: info@harborestuary.org.

Resources related to Hurricane Sandy response and updates:

General response & recovery

US Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Response and Recovery: this site details all of the response that the USEPA is involved with in New York and New Jersey. This includes information related to human health and clean-up, Superfund sampling results, disaster debris, and FAQs.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Hurricane Sandy information: this is the New Jersey go-to website for updates, environmental health testing results, clean-up, and other general guidance for residents.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: this is the New York State go-to website for latest updates, permitting information, waste disposal and other general guidance. New York City Residents can go to NYC.gov for additional information about support for repairs, non-profit loans, and volunteering opportunities. 

Post-Sandy Water Quality Sampling

In addition to the ongoing water quality data that is being collected in the harbor, additional data was collected following hurricane Sandy by New York City, New Jersey, and by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. See links below:

New York City Department of Environmental Protection Sandy sampling results and map of sampling stations.

New Jersey  (NJDEP, EPA, Harbor Dischargers) sampling results and map of sampling stations.

New Jersey DEP sampling results and locations

Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission updates

Interstate Environmental Commission 

Habitat Impacts and Considerations After Sandy

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Assessments of Impacts on Wildlife and Habitat 

Meeting Minutes

  • HEP Management Committee Meeting (December 12, 2012) | PDF


  • Corps - North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (September 12, 2013) | PDF

  • Presentation and audio recording from Sept 12, 2013 webinar on status
    of the Corps' North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study | MP3

HEP Convenes the Management Committee and partners to discuss impacts and opportunities after Superstorm Sandy (December 12, 2012) - proceedings on topics related to the storm are posted below in video (with accompanying presentations, where applicable): 

Opening remarks (Director of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program, Bob Nyman, and Deputy Administrator for EPA REgion 2, George Pavlou)

Impact of oil spills on natural resources (Carl Alderson, NOAA) | PDF

Impacts on natural resources within Gateway (Dave Avrin, NPS) | PDF

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection perspective (Kerry Kirk Pflugh, NJDEP)

Water quality monitoring after the storm – (Beau Ranheim, NYCDEP and Ashley Slagle, PVSC)

Rapid assessment of aquatic resources (Colin Grubel, Queens College) 

Wastewater treatment plants (Keith Mahoney and Ashley Slagle, PVSC) | PDF (Mahoney) | PDF (Slagle)

Marine debris removal and other port issues (John Tavolaro, USACE)

Impact of Sandy on Superfund Sites (Lora Smith, EPA Superfund) | PDF

Impacts north of the Tappan Zee Bridge (Sacha Spector, Scenic Hudson) | PDF

Ongoing climate change activities (Irene Nielson, USEPA)

Other Video Clips:

HEP Citizens Advisory Committee's Report on Sandy


New York/New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program • 17 Battery Place, Suite 915 • New York, NY 10004
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