Welcome to Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Services

5200 Soquel Avenue, Bldg C
Santa Cruz, CA
Phone: (831) 454-2188

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon
1:00 p.m.
to 5:00 p.m.


Once again, welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit our web site!


The Office of Emergency Services is a division of General Services and is responsible for emergency planning and preparation for Santa Cruz County.  The County Office of Emergency Services assesses major emergency threats to our community such as wild-land fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunami and civil disturbances. All of these planning activities require coordinated efforts with our emergency partners in order to logistically and efficiently allocate the necessary resources and obtain other support services to safeguard lives and property.




Santa Cruz County Emergency
Management Organization

The County of Santa Cruz emergency management system functions under the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). Santa Cruz County is part of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services Coastal Region.

The County Administrative Officer directs the emergency management organization, serving as the Director of Emergency Services. The Director is responsible for implementing the emergency operations plan through the efforts of the Santa Cruz County's Office of Emergency Services. Within the emergency organization structure, departments and agencies have specified roles and responsibilities for certain operational functions. For example, the Public Works Department is responsible for road repairs and construction, as well as conducting damage assessments on all  County maintained roadways upon a disaster or emergency. 

Disaster Preparedness




       (Additional Tsunami Information--in PDF Format)

  Weather Updates

  Road Conditions

  County Press Releases




Overall Concept of Operations 



The County's emergency operations plan addresses the entire spectrum of contingencies, ranging from relatively minor incidents to large scale disasters, such as an earthquake. Some emergencies will be preceded by a buildup or warning period, providing sufficient time to warn the public and implement mitigation measures designed to reduce loss of life, property damage, and effects on the environment. Other emergencies occur with little or no advance warning, thus requiring immediate activation of the emergency operations plan and efficient and coordinated mobilization and deployment of resources. All departments and agencies of the County are prepared to promptly and effectively respond to any foreseeable emergency, taking all appropriate actions, including requesting and providing mutual aid.




Emergency Phases

Emergency management activities during peacetime and national security emergencies are often associated with the four "federally defined phases"



Preparedness Phase

The preparedness phase involves activities that are undertaken in advance of an emergency or disaster. These activities develop operational capabilities and effective responses to a disaster.  Preparedness activities fall into two basic areas: readiness and capability.

Readiness activities shape the framework and create a basis of knowledge necessary to complete a task or mission, for example, implementing hazard mitigation projects, developing hazard analyses, maintaining emergency plans and procedures, conducting general and specialized training, conducting emergency exercises, developing mutual aid agreements and improving emergency public education and warning systems.

Capability activities might include: assessment of Santa Cruz County and Operational Area resources, comparison and analysis of anticipated resource requirements and resources; and identification of local sources to meet anticipated resource "shortfall."




Response Phase

The response phase includes increased readiness, initial response, and extended response activities. Upon receipt of a warning or the observation that an emergency situation is imminent or likely to occur, Santa Cruz County will initiate actions to increase its readiness.

Events which may trigger increased readiness activities include: issuance of a credible long term earthquake prediction, receipt of a flood advisory or other special weather statement, receipt of a potential dam failure advisory, conditions conducive to wild-land fires such as a combination of high heat, strong winds, and low humidity, as well as an expansive hazardous materials incident.

Increased readiness activities may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Reviewing and updating the Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Plan and Standard Operating Procedures

  • Increasing public information efforts

  • Accelerating training efforts

  • Inspecting critical facilities and equipment, including testing warning and communications systems

  • Recruiting additional staff and disaster service workers

  • Warning threatened sectors of the population

  • Conducting precautionary evacuations in the potentially impacted areas

  • Contacting state and federal agencies that may be involved in field activities




Recovery Phase

Recovery activities involve the restoration of services to the public and returning the affected area(s) to pre-emergency conditions. Recovery activities  may be both short term and long term, ranging from restoration of essential utilities such as water and power, to mitigation measures designed to prevent future occurrences of a given threat. Examples of recovery activities include: restoring utilities, applying for state and federal assistance programs, conducting hazard mitigation analyses, identifying residual hazards and determining and recovering costs associated with response and recovery efforts.





Mitigation Phase

Mitigation efforts occur both before and after emergencies or disasters. Post disaster mitigation is actually part of the recovery process. This includes eliminating or reducing the impact of hazards that exist within Santa Cruz County. Mitigation activities may include: amending local ordinances and statutes, such as zoning ordinances, building codes, and other enforcement codes. It also includes initiating structural retrofitting measures, assessing tax levees or abatements; emphasizing public education and awareness; and assessing/altering land use planning. 


Standardized Emergency
Management System




The Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) is intended to standardize response to emergencies involving multiple jurisdictions or multiple agencies. It requires emergency response agencies to use basic principles and components of emergency management, including, the operational area concept, and established mutual aid systems.



Mutual Aid System

The Mutual Aid System is designed to ensure that adequate resources, facilities, and other support are provided to jurisdictions whenever their own resources prove to be inadequate to cope with a given situation(s).

Under the mutual aid agreement, state government is obligated to provide available resources to assist local jurisdictions in emergencies. To facilitate the coordination and flow of mutual aid, the state has been divided into six mutual aid regions/three administrative regions. Santa Cruz County is located within Mutual Aid Region 2.

Assistance for Disaster Victims

The County Office of Emergency Services acts as liaison between the state and the federal government in disaster relief efforts.

Once a disaster is declared by the President, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as directed by the President, mobilizes the resources needed to assist in the recovery efforts of the affected community.  FEMA then makes assistance directly available to the public through a variety of federally funded programs. For example, the Small Business Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Veteran Affairs, the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD)  are agencies with the ability to fund assistance programs depending upon the event.


FEMA's role in the recovery process is to activate the response from other federal agencies, work closely with the State Office of Emergency Services, and  to assess damages in consultation with local officials. Local officials in turn, are charged with identifying the emergency needs of the community and requesting support from both the state and the federal government. Although FEMA is the major funding contributor, the State OES, along with the County OES, coordinate local disaster relief efforts. Levels of Emergency Involvement .


The public can directly apply for federal and state disaster assistance programs following a declared disaster by calling 1-800-462-9029 (Toll-Free) or for the speech and hearing impaired, use the TTY line at

La Oficina de Servicios de Emergencia del condado de Santa Cruz tiene personal que habla Español.

You can email us at Office of Emergency Services



The County of Santa Cruz makes no representations or warrants as to the suitability of this information for your particular purpose, and that to the extent you use or implement this information in your own setting you do so at your own risk. The information provided herewith is solely for your own use and cannot be sold. In no event will the County of Santa Cruz be liable for any damages whatsoever, whether direct, consequential, incidental, special or on claim for attorney fees arising out of the use of or inability to use the information provided herewith.