Ask the Director Article

Tully Clifford, Public Works Director, City of Ventura

Q. What is the City of Ventura doing to prepare our community for heavy rain after the Thomas Fire?

A The City of Ventura Public Works Department, along with Police, Fire, Parks, and the County Watershed Protection District have taken emergency preparedness measures to prepare for potential fire debris flow in an effort to protect our community. Ventura Public Works crews have been, and continue to be, out in the community inspecting and cleaning catch basins to ensure debris basins and flood channels are clear in the event of a heavy rainfall.

Routine maintenance is critical to keeping our local waterways flowing properly. Inspection and cleaning of catch basins, storm drains, pipes and channels is performed continuously throughout the year. Large basins get an annual inspection to reduce flood risk for the downstream community. Debris, such as vegetation, sediment and boulders that could plug the outlets, is removed by hand crews or heavy equipment to ensure that functionality is maintained.

As an added measure of protection, Ventura Public Works is using innovative modeling technology to generate maps that identify potential locations of debris flow in a given area. This tool is being used citywide and the City will continue to monitor the burn area as it can take 3-5 years for vegetation to significantly recover, and about ten years to fully recover.

Residents may have noticed that more than 1,200 feet of K-rail (temporary concrete barriers) was installed along Foothill Road and Cedar Street. These precautionary measures were put in place to keep light rain flow and small amounts of mud off the streets until the soil is stabilized and vegetation is reestablished.

Properties near a burn area remain at increased risk for flooding, erosion, and debris flows for 1-3 years following a wildfire. To protect your private property, seek the advice of a professional who can advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce risk. The City also encourages you to talk to your neighbors who may not be aware of potential hazards.

You can also protect your property with sandbags, plastic sheeting, jute netting, and wattles. The City provides sand and bags to residents at the Ventura Public Works Maintenance Yard, 336 Sanjon Yard. Community members are asked to bring their own shovels and take only what they need. Residents can visit to view an interactive map and better understand the hazards they face.

The City of Ventura has also established evacuation maps to assist residents subject to debris flow to evacuate quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. The maps can be viewed on the City’s website at

We encourage the public to stay informed through official sources:

  • Register for VC Alert ( to receive emergency notifications
  • Visit to stay informed during an emergency
  • In the event of major incident or disaster, call the City of Ventura Disaster Hotline at 805-477-3711.
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