LITTLE FERRY - Two New Jersey areas have won millions of dollars in a national contest aimed at preventing floods. 

Little Ferry was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. The town was devastated by an 8-foot storm surge when the Hackensack River overflowed its banks.  

A year and a half later, the town sits within one of two New Jersey regions chosen for a flood mitigation competition.

"It is a multistage design competition to develop innovative and implementable solutions to promote resilience in the Sandy-affected region," says Zia Kahn, of the Rockefeller Foundation.

President Barack Obama launched the Rebuild By Design competition in the summer of 2013, challenging the world's best engineers and planners to design ways of preventing or minimizing flood damage from future storms.

"The goal was to find innovative approaches to repetitive flooding and storm surges, including nature-based solutions and hardened infrastructure, that mitigate against future flood risk," says Gov. Chris Christie.

The cities of Jersey City, Weehawken, and Hoboken will collectively receive $230 million for water pumps and a new drainage system. The Little Ferry/Moonachie area will receive $150 million in government funding to restore and expand water-absorbing wetlands. Engineers also propose building a barrier.  

The plan to protect New Jersey towns is welcome news for Little Ferry residents. Elide Vlacancich says it's a very important step. "At least I'll have peace of mind," she says. "I will be able to sleep better when there's a storm coming."

In addition to preventing damage, officials also hope the design plans save lives.