Contact: Kelly Vence

Office of Public Information

(908) 820-4124




ELIZABETH, NJ – October 22, 2013— Earlier today at 11:30 a.m., Mayor J. Christian Bollwage held a press conference to announce the City’s efforts to raise awareness regarding climate change, its impact and preparation for the future.

"With Hurricane Sandy, the City of Elizabeth witnessed the destruction that can result from a storm of this magnitude," said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. "In addition to the loss of power for more than a week, the storm surge had a tremendous negative impact on our Waterfront.  Using the knowledge and experience we have now to prepare for future events will greatly assist communities as they incorporate safeguarding efforts."

In the Port community, Elizabeth sustained considerable damage at the waterfront – which can still be seen and felt one year later. Sandy’s unparalleled surge from the Arthur Kill caused flooding – forcing water throughout the property, uplifting the boardwalk and breaking it into pieces. The pier was washed away and debris covered the area where today’s press conference took place.

Joe DeNicholas from Atalanta Corporation, who lost over $20 million in property damage, inventory and business interruption, took to the podium to talk about the effects it had the company.

“Our weekly sales revenue across the country declined 90% in the weeks immediately following the storm,” said Joe DeNicholas, Vice President of Operations and Logistics of Atalanta Corporation. “Sandy had far-reaching effects not only on our companies and our employees - but also on the local economy, restaurant chains, schools, hospitals, and on retail consumers of our food products throughout America. While we now have invaluable experience dealing with an extreme weather event, it’s certainly not something any of us ever want to go through again. We need more planning at all levels of government to alleviate the impact of future events.”

This event follows President Barack Obama’s historic national climate change plan announcement on June 25th - which includes America’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. It also calls for new clean energy and energy efficiency investments, along with other strategies to prepare for the effects of climate change.  On September 20th, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new proposal for carbon pollution from new power plants, which is the first step in the implementation of President Obama's climate action plan.

Superstorm Sandy, which left 131 dead and destroyed approximately 380,000 homes, was the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Within the United States, the hurricane first made landfall in New Jersey, with winds of 80mph. It created a storm surge that broke the all-time record in New York Harbor. 

“In an era of billion dollar disasters nationwide, Sandy brought home to everyone, up close and very personally, the ferocity of environmental hazards in an ever-changing climate,” said Dr. Paul Croft, Executive Director of the School of Environmental & Sustainability Sciences at Kean University.  “President Obama unveiled a climate change plan in June to address our nation's response to such catastrophes and provide some guiding principles for action. Greater frequencies and intensities of storms in a changing climate are of concern to everyone such that we must ask ‘What are we willing to do?’ before, during, and after the next storm.

Like most of New Jersey, Elizabeth had to deal with trees uprooted by high winds, utility lines that were brought down, gas shortages, and traffic lights that went out. Out of 51,000 PSE&G accounts in Elizabeth, 49,000 were initially without power. Nearly ten days following the storm thousands were still left in the dark and cold, causing a significant amount of food to be lost due to the inability to refrigerate or freeze goods.

Superstorm Sandy also disrupted civic events.  Its waterfront damage caused Elizabeth’s annual 4th of July fireworks to be cancelled for the first time in fifteen years, along with the cancellation of the annual Elizabeth Waterfront Latin Festival.

"The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New Jersey - in lost lives, lost homes and lost businesses, was not something that was anticipated," said Councilman-At-Large Manny Grova, Jr. "If we all do our part on both a local and national level, we may be able to prevent such occurrences in the years to come."

President Obama has presented a broad, common-sense plan for meeting our obligation to protect future generations from climate change. His decision to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants is particularly important since there are no current limits on carbon pollution from power plants - even though they are its biggest source. Industrial carbon pollution was just measured at the highest levels in human history. President Obama’s plan also calls for infrastructure improvements to deal with the effects of climate change as well as new investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

"In the end, it’s up to us,” said Michelle Doran McBean, CEO of Future City, Inc. “We need to support polices and initiatives – like President Obama’s plan to combat climate change – that create and sustain a resilient country and world. And we must set a local civic and communal standard that links us nationally and globally.”

For more information on this Press Conference, please call 908-820-4124.