Disaster Preparedness

Monterey County embraces the Whole Community concept, one in which engagement of the private and nonprofit sectors, along with the general public and in conjunction with local, tribal, state, and Federal government partners  leads to a stronger, more resilient community.  

Preparedness is a shared responsibility, and it calls for the involvement of everyone—not just the government—in preparedness efforts. By working together, we can keep our communities safe from harm and resilient when struck by hazards.

We will-

·         Work to understand the unique and diverse needs of our local communities

·         Engage and empower these communities, involving everyone as part of the process to identify needs and resources available

·         Find ways to support and strengthen the already existing capabilities to further enhance the capacity of these communities

By working together, we can do more.


It's easy to just.....

Getting prepared to handle disasters can be an overwhelming task - there's tons of information out there, potential for stress, and other factors that can make it easy to put it off. Do 1 Thing has simplified the process in its quest to help build stronger communities by breaking preparedness down into 12 categories, featured monthly on a rotating basis, and giving ideas and easy to follow directions on how to increase your capabilities in each one. We'll follow their lead and feature the monthly category on our sidebar or feel free to take a look at all 12 below:


Hazards in Monterey County


An earthquake is a sudden motion or trembling caused by a release of strain accumulated within or along the edge of the earth’s tectonic plates. The effects of an earthquake can be felt far beyond the site of its occurrence. Earthquakes usually occur without warning and, after just a few seconds, can cause massive damage and extensive casualties. The most common effect of earthquakes is ground motion, or the vibration or shaking of the ground during an earthquake.

The severity of an earthquake can be expressed in terms of intensity and magnitude.

 Intensity is based on the damage and observed effects on people and the natural and built environment.

Magnitude is the measure of the earthquake strength. It is related to the amount of seismic energy released at the earthquake’s hypocenter, the actual location of the energy released inside the earth.

Earthquake magnitude, intensity, and felt effects

Historically, most of the earthquakes that have occurred in Monterey County have originated from movement along the San Andreas Fault system, which runs through the county. Available data suggest that between five to ten small earthquakes have been felt each year in Monterey County and one moderate earthquake has been felt along the San Andreas Fault near Parkfield every 22 years (1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, 1966, and 2004) over the past 150 years.

It is critical to be prepared for earthquakes, as California is very susceptible to them and they can have devastating effects. Read "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country" for some background info, and visit Totally Unprepared and Drop, Cover, Hold On to learn how to be better equipped to deal with one.

Damage from 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (Click for video)


Monterey County is home to 99 of California's 840 miles of coastline. While we (and others from around the world) enjoy our beaches and coast every day without incident, its proximity to and along many major faults can leave it susceptible to a tsunami. While catastrophic tsunamis are rare, and cannot be prevented, you can diminish adverse impacts through community preparedness, timely warnings and effective response.

Here are some FAQs about tsunamis, and for more information on current conditions, check the National Tsunami Warning Center

2011 Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Guidelines

Local Tsunami Inundation Maps


Pfeiffer Fire, 2013

(Pfeiffer Fire, 2013 Photo by George Krieger)

A wildland fire is a type of wildfire that spreads through consumption of vegetation. It often begins unnoticed, spreads quickly, and is usually signaled by dense smoke that may be visible from miles around.

Wildland fires can be caused by human activities (such as arson or campfires) or by natural events such as lightning.The frequency and severity of wildland fires is also dependent on other hazards, such as lightning, drought, and insect infestations.

 Wildland fires often occur in forests or other areas with ample vegetation. The large portion of Monterey County that fits this description, along with the homes, businesses, and communities located in areas adjacent to these puts us at risk. Become prepared by following the "Ready, Set, Go!" template:




Get Readt, Get Set, Go! : How to be prepared for wildfire


Flooding is the accumulation of water where usually none occurs or the overflow of excess water from a stream, river, lake, reservoir, or coastal body of water onto adjacent land.

 Physical damage from floods includes the following:
• Inundation of structures, causing water damage to structural elements and contents.
• Erosion or scouring of stream banks, roadway embankments, foundations, footings for bridge piers, and other features.
• Impact damage to structures, roads, bridges, culverts, and other features from high-velocity flow and from debris carried by floodwaters. Such debris may also accumulate on bridge piers and in culverts, increasing loads on these features or causing overtopping or backwater effects.
• Destruction of crops, erosion of topsoil, and deposition of debris and sediment on croplands.
• Release of sewage and hazardous or toxic materials as wastewater treatment plants are inundated, storage tanks are damaged, and pipelines are severed.

 Salinas River floodingIn Monterey County two types of flooding occur: riverine flooding, also known as overbank flooding, due to excessive rainfall, and coastal flooding due to wave run-up.

During the January flood event of 1995, sustained precipitation fell throughout the region and over 125 residential properties in the Carmel Valley sustained damage.

Two months later, Monterey County experienced a second significant winter storm, which led to devastating flooding throughout Monterey County, particularly in the unincorporated communities of Castroville, Mission Fields, Carmel Valley, Cachagua, Carmel Highlands, Spreckels, and Big Sur. Over 1,500 residences and 100 businesses were damaged.

 In 1998, a series of El Niño winter storms contributed to intense flooding in which over 15 inches of rain fell during the month of February. Several small streams flooded and several coastal communities experienced flooding from wave run-up. In addition, Pajaro’s entire population of 3,500 was ordered to evacuate after the levee along the Pajaro River was breached in several places.

For more information on floods and what to do before, during, and after, visit Ready.gov



Landslide is a general term for the dislodgment and fall of a mass of soil or rocks along a sloped surface.

Highway 1 landslide

Landslides often occur together with other natural hazards:
• Shaking due to earthquakes can trigger events ranging from rock falls and topples to massive slides.
• Intense or prolonged precipitation that causes flooding can also saturate slopes and cause failures leading to landslides.
• Landslides into a reservoir can indirectly compromise dam safety, and a landslide can even affect the dam itself.
• Wildfires can remove vegetation from hillsides, significantly increasing runoff and landslide potential.



Man-made disasters

Emergency Preparedness Websites