Port Authority teams with Stevens for flood prediction program

Posted: Updated:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey now has a new tool to protect its infrastructure from dangerous flooding.

A Port Authority PATH station was destroyed by flooding from Superstorm Sandy. Port Authority officials say that by teaming with Stevens Institute of Technology, they hope to prevent something like this from happening again.

“We have some of the most critical infrastructure on the East Coast,” says Port Authority Emergency Operations manager Ira Forman. “Bridges, tunnels, our major airports, are either right on top of a body of water, or just across a highway from a body of water.”

Stevens Institute has developed technology that can predict flooding and how bad it could get

“The role we play at Stevens is to develop street-by-street flood-forecasting models,” says Dr. Alan Blumberg. “We do flood forecasting from rain and from storm surges.”

Sensors are placed in bodies of water across New York and New Jersey. Those sensors then send real-time data to a super computer at the institute, which predicts where and how bad flooding will be.

The system can alert the Port Authority's Office of Emergency Management up to four days ahead of time about flooding. The agency can share that information with other agencies and municipalities, allowing emergency management across the state to better prepare, protect property and potentially save lives.

“What we try to do is give them notice. We give them what’s likely to happen, what’s the worst that could happen and what is the risk associated with different probabilities,” Blumberg says.

The system starts tracking four days ahead of a flooding event and sends alerts eight hours before any type of flooding occurs.

The project is expensive – the Port Authority has earmarked over $6 million to keep the project running.

Those involved in the project says that New Jersey Transit is also interested in investing.

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