Know Your Flood Risk

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The City of Santa Clara is located in the heart of Santa Clara Valley, partially bounded by Calabazas Creek and Guadalupe River, with San Tomas Aquino and Saratoga creeks running through the City.  City is at risk to both riverine flooding and localized stormwater flooding. The City, like other urban areas, faces risks to life and property from many natural and man-made hazards.  Risk of storm, flooding and dam/levee failure are only second to risk of earthquake in the City of Santa Clara1

Parts of the City have been flooded during past storm events in 1980, 1983, 1986 and most recently in 1998 when Calabazas Creek overtopped2.  Several levees protects 35% of the City3 from risk of flooding and much of the City north of Highway 101 could potentially be flooded if the Anderson Dam fails4.  While less than 10% of the City is in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), parts of the City outside of SFHA can potentially experience shallow flooding due to lack of storm drain system capacity5.

Your property may be subject to flooding. The City has over 1000 buildings in the SFHA. To check if your property is in SFHA, if it was impacted by past floods, or if it will potentially be affected by a local drainage issue or dam failure, call the City’s Planning Division, 408-615-2450, or email planning@santaclaraca.gov for details specific to your property. Information such as current flood zone of a specific property, local floodplains, and effective Letter of Map Amendments is available. You can also visit FEMA Map Servicing Center (msc.fema.gov), enter your address to find flood zone information relevant to your property. 

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)6 does not show individual properties removed from the flood zone by the Letter of Map Amendment process, because the map scale cannot accommodate such detail.  Also there are individual properties removed from the flood zone through the Letter of Map Amendment Process after the FIRM was issued. Letter of Map Amendments in effect are available on FEMA Flood Map Service Center website. City also has the information available. Just give us a call at 408-615-2450.

The FEMA has issued a letter revalidating Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs) in conjunction with the issuance of the new Flood Insurance Rate Map, effective May 18, 2009.  If your lender or insurance agent questions the validity of your LOMA because of the issuance of the new flood map, you should send a copy of this letter to document that the LOMA has been revalidated.

  1. City of Santa Clara Emergency Operation Plan, Annex L, Hazard Mitigation Plan Volume 2, Section 14.8 Hazard risk ranking. 
  2. Santa Clara Valley Water District Flood Reports from 1967 to 2017.
  3. Areas protected by levee are shown as hatched on FIRM.  Hatched area within the City is calculated using the effective FIRM.
  4. Anderson Dam 2016 inundation map.
  5. City of Santa Clara Storm Drain Master Plan 2015
  6. Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels pertinent to City of Santa Clara. You can access these by clicking on “I want to …” and selectin “Change visible map layers” from the drop down menu.  All available layers will appear on the left, then click “FEMA Layers” to see the FIRM panels. To look up flood zone information by address, click “FEMA Flood Zone” in the available layers, and then type in the address in search box.

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