City of Ottawa shores up flood response preparations

Flood
Flooding in Cumberland, seen on May 7, 2017. (Photo by Alex Abdelwahab / Metro)

With spring around the corner, the city says it’s stockpiled some 100,000 sandbags and created a special task force to respond to flooding risks.

Experts are not anticipating a repeat of the flooding that damaged properties and forced hundreds of families from their homes last year. The snowpack in Ottawa is at its lowest level since 2000 and major rainfalls are not expected, city officials said at a briefing for councillors Monday.

Last year’s flooding created a “horrific situation” for about 500 people, Mayor Jim Watson said, and cost the municipality approximately $2.6 million. Following a review of the city’s response, officials created a flood mitigation task force that includes experts in emergency management, public health, planning, public works, media relations and communications.

Additionally, the city is holding a series of public information sessions and has created online videos on how to fill and stack sandbags.

More than a metre of rain fell on the region during the first week of May last year, drenching an area already saturated with melting snow. The spring flooding forced the closure of office buildings in Gatineau and forced the evacuation of nearly 850 people across the National Capital Region.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said in September that the flooding resulting in more than $223 million in insured damage. However, the cost of the damage was actually much higher, as many homeowners are not covered by so-called overland flood insurance.

– By Rebecca Atkinson