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September 27, 2021

Water district picks up national award for flood safety mailer

The Santa Clara Valley Water District received a first-place award for Excellence in Communications from the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, according to a July 17 announcement.
Under the category of “individual item,” the water district’s annual floodplain mailer was recognized as an exemplary communication piece for flood awareness, according to staff.
Following a winter of record-setting rainfall, which resulted in historic flooding along Coyote Creek that impacted various neighborhoods in San José, the water district decided to spruce up the annual floodplain mailer and increase accessibility of this important publication in a variety of ways. The 2017-18 mailer was designed as a magazine style brochure, available in four languages (English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish) with content highlights and a language directory on the cover.
“While not always present in the minds of residents, flood risks are ever-present. Our annual mailer is a critical reminder and a great resource for our most vulnerable residents,” said Board Director John Varela, who represents South County and the hills east of San Jose and Milpitas.
The annual floodplain mailer is an educational brochure mailed to all homes and businesses located in FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas, or high-risk flood zones. For nearly 20 years, this item has been a key component of the district’s annual flood awareness campaign. As a participant of FEMA’s Community Rating System, the district’s communication outreach efforts help reduce flood insurance premiums for participating municipalities. These flood risk reduction efforts, including projects and targeted outreach, earn CRS points which help reduce flood insurance premiums for residents.
“Communication and outreach is essential to our flood protection efforts,” said water district Board Chair Richard P. Santos. “We work hard to make sure the folks who need this information the most receive it in the best format.”
The revamped publication was driven by community research and a process overhaul. In the almost two decades of its existence, the annual floodplain mailer was evaluated for the first time in fall of 2017 by a series of focus groups in preparation for the 2017-18 flood awareness campaign. Included in the publication is extensive information about flood risks, flood insurance, preserving creeks, flood safety tips and resources.
“We’re always looking to improve. Feedback from the community is always valuable and an award like this acknowledges our progress,” said Santos.
In April poll of residents who live in flood prone areas, 48.3% of those surveyed recalled a flood safety advertisement over the past year, according to SCVWD staff. In the same poll, more than 57% reported that they were confident that they have taken all the necessary measures to protect themselves, their family and their home from flooding.
To see a copy of the award-winning floodplain mailer and the district’s campaign resources, visit

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