City strikes expert task force to prepare for floods

The City of Ottawa doesn't expect a repeat of last year's flooding across the region, but it's trying to be more prepared for the next time the Ottawa River spills its banks.

Flooding isn't expected this year, but city says it wants to be prepared for future events

A flood volunteer removes sandbags in a wheelbarrow in Constance Bay on Saturday, May 20, 2017. The city has produced a training video for volunteers on how to fill and stack sandbags. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The City of Ottawa doesn't expect a repeat of last year's flooding across the region, but it's trying to be more prepared for the next time the Ottawa River spills its banks.

City staff gave an update Monday on a new task force designed to deal with flood issues. In addition to several city departments, the group draws in expertise from outside groups and agencies designed to reduce the impact of a future flood.

"The city is working closely with outside agencies to ensure a coordinated, proactive and effective response to flooding," said Watson.

The city has 100,000 sandbags at the ready, with the ability to get more if needed, and has produced a training video on how to fill sandbags and stack the bags into a wall.

The city also looked at how it responded during the last flood and found challenges with communication that it hopes to work on and issues mobilizing volunteers.

Watson said the task force is still in the phase of conducting research and is trying to be adaptable to change.

"We have to be reasonable, flexible and nimble," he said. 

Hundreds of homes were flooded in Ottawa and Gatineau last spring when heavy rains combined with a late spring melt.

Pierre Poirier, the city's director of emergency management, said the Ottawa area is not seeing the same conditions this year and much of the snowpack in eastern Ontario has already melted.