Santa Clara is vulnerable to river and stream flooding, flash floods, and urban street flooding. This is especially true for areas in the low-lying Santa Clara River Valley.
Flooding can occur at any time of the year. Flooding in Winter and Spring is most often caused by large storms and melting snow, which fills river basins too quickly. Flooding in Summer and Autumn is most often caused by high-intensity thunderstorms either static or fast-moving in nature.
It is important to remember that floods can occur in an area under rain or shine. Fast-melting snow can travel quickly, or a burst of rain, dam breach, or landslide could present a threat to low-lying areas downstream and below hills.
Santa Clara has experienced many heavy floods in the past 20 years, most notably in 2005 and 2012. According to NOAA, climate change is likely to increase the frequency of flash flooding events in the desert Southwest United States. This is why the City of Santa Clara believes it is especially important to always be prepared for a flood event in your home and community.
Learn how to protect your property, family, and community by following these helpful steps below:
|Before a Flood||During a Flood||After a Flood|
|Strongly consider purchasing flood insurance, especially if you live in the floodplain or the Santa Clara River Valley.||Avoid flooded areas. DO NOT cross flowing water. It only takes 6″ of water to sweep you off your feet.||Take photos of damage throughout your building, around your property, and of your possessions.|
|Clear your yard of any debris that can block water flow and storm drains.||DO NOT hike rivers or slot canyons while any warning is in place. Regardless of where you are during a flood warning, do not hike alone and let a friend or family member know where you are going.||Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Swelling or leaking ceilings are indications of damage.|
|Identify and move electronics and other expensive items to higher ground or an upper level.||DO NOT drive through flood waters or flooded roads. Water only two feet deep can float most vehicles.||Clean and disinfect heating, AC, and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores.|
|When using sandbags, fill one-half full, fold the top of sandbag down and rest the bag on its folded top.||DO NOT camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes.||Use fans and natural light to dry out interior spaces. Remove all wet carpets, rugs, curtains, and fabrics to air dry completely.|
|Limit sandbag placement to three layers, unless stacked up against a building or placed in a pyramid formation. Complete each layer fully prior to starting the next layer.||Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flooding conditions, especially when heavy rainfall is occurring.||After drying, clean and disinfect anything that has come into contact by flood waters, including floors, walls, or other fixed items.|
|Place important documents, an emergency kit, and cash in a secure watertight container. Take photos or videos to create an inventory of your personal possessions.||DO NOT allow children to play near high water, storm drains, or ditches. Household pets should also be kept away from dangerous areas.||Contact Santa Clara City to see if any permit or form must be obtained before making any needed repairs.|
|Clear a path between buildings for debris flow, and lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the sand bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping in.||Stay alert for mudslide conditions or potential collapsing of structures, especially those upstream. Be aware of any sharp increase in water flow and notice when water becomes muddy, indicating potential heavy debris flow.||Contact your insurance agent and file a flood insurance claim.|
For more information about flood safety, visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes’ website.