What Should You Do Before a Flood?

View the current Pajaro River Levels

Determine if Your Property is Located in an Area Subject to Flooding


A property located within a flood zone does not necessarily have flooding problems. Your property may still be within a flood zone, as designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps. Upon request, the Community Development Engineering Division at 831-768-3050, will make free flood zone determinations for properties within the City. FEMA maps are also available in the Watsonville Public Libraries. If located in an "A" Zone, your property is within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which is an area that has been determined to have the potential for flooding caused by a 100-year storm. The building department also maintains elevation certificates for structures within the city which are also available for review.

Purchase Flood Insurance on Your Property


Flooding is not covered by a standard homeowner's insurance policy. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover damages incurred by flooding. Coverage is available for the building itself as well as for the contents of the building. The City of Watsonville participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that makes available federally backed flood insurance for all structures, whether or not they are located within the floodplain. Note that there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect. More than 25% of NFIP claims are filed by properties located outside the 100-year floodplain, also known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Contact your insurance agency for more information. Flood insurance information is also available in Watsonville Public Libraries.


Maintain Drainage Channels & Pipes Free of Obstruction & Debris


The City of Watsonville, Public Works Department performs cleaning and maintenance activities on the storm drainage system in City easements and rights-of-way in accordance with an established schedule and other standard operating procedures. Residents are encouraged to assist in maintaining the drainage in their areas by removing or reporting obstructions (such as shopping carts, leaves, debris, trash, etc.). Keeping drainage channels free of obstructions reduces flooding in the event of heavy rains. By way of City ordinance, it is illegal to dump trash, leaves, landscape debris, paint, grease, or any other material into any portion of the City's drainage system. Such dumping can have devastating impacts on water quality in addition to causing flooding. To report obstructions or illegal dumping, or for questions regarding drainage system maintenance, please contact City Storm Water Maintenance at 831-768-3133. The County of Santa Cruz 831-477-3999 primarily maintains the Pajaro River, local creeks
and other open channels.

Protect Your Property From the Hazards of Flooding & Wind


Various methods may be used to minimize flooding. If the floor level of your property is lower than the "Base Flood Elevation" (elevation of the 100-year flood, based on the FEMA maps), consider elevating your structure, if possible. Brochures discussing flood proofing and other mitigation measures are available in Watsonville Public Libraries. If a flood is imminent, property can be protected by sandbagging areas subject to the entry of water into living spaces. Valuables and furniture may also be moved to higher areas of the dwelling to minimize damages. Attaching plywood or specially made panels over windows and patio doors may help protect against high wind damages associated with hurricanes. The City of Watsonville will make site visits to provide one-on-one advice to a property owner regarding flooding and drainage issues on private property. For more information, please contact Community Development Engineering Division at 831-768-3050.

Meet Improvement Requirements


The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that if the cost of reconstruction, additions, or other improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50% of the building's market value, then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to the same standards. For example, a residence damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building's value before it was damaged must be elevated above the base flood elevation. Please contact the Community Development Department at 831-768-3050 for more information.


Meet Permitting Requirements


All development within the city requires a permit. Always check and fulfill permitting requirements with the Community Development Department at 831-768-3050 before you build on, alter, fill, or re-grade on any portion of your property and/or within any easement or right-of-way.

Keep an Emergency Supply


Non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, a manual can opener, and a battery-operated radio should be kept available.