Elected official: Mayor John Allard

Location: Roseville, California

Story Map: Leading the Nation in Flood Control: Roseville, California

Link to full interview video

Roseville is a city of approximately 133,000 residents in the Sacramento metropolitan area of California. Although seven creeks run through the city, flooding is no longer a major problem. The city’s reduction in flood risk is the result of mitigation actions that continue to be implemented by the city after historic floods in February 1986 and January 1995, which resulted in the flooding of 209 and 358 buildings, respectively. Since the 1995 flood, infrastructure improvements have “worked flawlessly to prevent any additional flood damage,” says the current mayor of Roseville, John Allard. If not for these efforts, one neighborhood would have flooded multiple times since 1995.

Thanks to flood control improvements, the 100-year flood elevation is now modeled at 2 feet, 9 inches below the high water mark shown on this sign. (Photo courtesy of the city of Roseville).

Roseville has been actively involved in FEMA’s Community Rating System program since 1992, and became the first city to earn a Class 1 Rating in 2006. As of Oct. 1, 2018, it is still the only community in the nation with a Class 1 rating. This top rating is the result of high marks for public information, mapping and regulatory standards, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness, which Mayor Allard describes as a “portfolio approach.” As a benefit of this rating, property owners in high-risk flood zones receive up to a 45 percent discount on flood insurance.

Since the 1986 flood, Roseville has focused on improving infrastructure over the past few decades. It has invested $32 million in flood protection – $15.7 million of which came from the city, $13.8 million from FEMA grant funding, and $2.7 million from a local railroad company. These projects included strategically enlarging, adding, replacing, improving or removing culverts and widening steam channels to reduce the size of the floodplain, installing stormwater bypass tunnels and floodwalls and levees, and elevating flood-prone homes that could not be brought out of the floodplain by flood control projects.

Mayor Allard talks about flood control infrastructure projects

Since 1986, the city’s development standards have not allowed new buildings to be built within the 100-year floodplain, except in the center of the city if no adverse impact is demonstrated. The flood elevation of any structure must be at least 2 feet above the 100-year flood elevation projected for 2040. As a result of the combination of flood control projects and regulations, less than 7% of the city is currently within a floodplain, and most of the floodplain consists of open space (with no homes). This a remarkable step in mitigating flood losses by restricting construction that would be at risk. Mayor Allard said, “Roseville has overcome the typical developer pushback against higher standards by streamlining the process and making it predictable. Developers appreciate Roseville’s efficient and predictable development process. They know there won’t be costly delays and costly surprises down the road.”

Mayor Allard talks about the city’s floodplain regulations

Flood control remains a high priority for the city because flooding is the costliest type of natural disaster, and Roseville wants to continue to attract residents looking for a high-quality community to raise their families or retire. Roseville gets economic benefits from its status as a CRS Class 1 community (in addition to avoiding costly flood damage repairs) because it is an incentive for businesses to locate in the city. Roseville plans to continue to minimize flooding and maintain its exceptional rating by actively managing manmade and natural drainage systems. Ongoing projects include the operation of an alert system that predicts and broadcasts flood warnings and an annual streambed maintenance program for clearing creeks of fallen trees and debris that could otherwise float downstream and block culverts and bridges.

The city has an Emergency Management Team consisting of members from every city department that meets monthly to keep its preparedness current. The city also has a robust communications team that is well-versed in emergency communications with multiple public communication channels, such as social media, email, and direct mail, and the public can view creek levels in real time by seeing stream gauges online. “We continue to receive resident support of our floodplain management efforts using public outreach to showcase our flood alert system and the benefits of our flood protection improvements during any significant storm event,” said Mayor Allard.

Mayor Allard’s advice to other communities after a flood is to act quickly to make investments in flood protection while the flood is still fresh in residents' minds. For communities in flood-prone areas that have not yet experienced a flood, he recommends learning from other community’s experiences, reaching out to Roseville staff, and not waiting for a flood to act, citing the statistic that for every $1 invested in flood protection, $7 is saved in post-disaster recovery.

Mayor Allard offers advice to other elected officials

Link to full interview video

Story Map: Leading the Nation in Flood Control: Roseville, California


Story Map Cover

Take a story map guided tour through all the communities featured in Volume III's Success Stories. You can explore each communities’ timeline of flood events and responses, with an immersive narrative that includes photos, videos, and audio clips.


See more Success Stories from the Guide for Elected Officials