Last year, a consultant’s report revealed the good, the bad and the ugly about the city of Ottawa’s responses to flooding in 2017.On the plus side, the $30,000 “after-action” report by International Safety Research found that flood-affected residents felt reassured when city staff arrived to visit their homes. The report also lauded the work of community associations. Despite room for improvement, most respondents judged the city’s flood response to be “effective”, said the report, based on workshops, 50 in-person interviews and responses from 407 city staff members.On the negative side, the report also found that the response was hampered by lack of staff training, inconsistent communications and disorganized volunteers.West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chanitry, whose ward includes Constance Bay, says the changes that have come about through the report’s findings have been helpful — especially getting early warnings about the possibility of flooding.“We’ve been on this for 10 days mainly because we started talking about the possibility of a flood,” he said. “I would be lying if I said we have it perfect. There’s always room to learn.”Here’s what the 2017 after-action report found — and how things have changed since then:2017: Almost half of the staff who responded to the consultant’s survey indicated they either had no training in emergency response or no training in emergency response in the previous 24 months.The consultant found that “a large percentage of the city staff utilized to fill an emergency response role were new to emergency management operations and may not have been fully trained on the role that they were required to execute during this emergency.”Now: Over the past two years, the city has increased training. Currently, the emergency operations centre has more than 40 staff in the room, said the city’s manager of security and emergency management, Pierre Poirier.2017: City councillors and key community partners were contacting senior managers directly, which led to inconsistent information being delivered to residents.Now: The city now has a councillor liaison position in the emergency operations centre who is in frequent contact with councillors in the affected wards.2017: A quarter of the people interviewed by the consultant found that volunteer management was “unorganized”. Volunteers were delayed arriving to the sites and confused about their roles.Now: The city has a partnership with Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue/Sauvetage Bénévole Outaouais, a non-profit with 130 volunteer members on both sides of the Ottawa River. Members of the group, which was also called in for tornado response last fall, co-ordinate the “spontaneous volunteers” who show up at sandbagging sites to fill sandbags and help homeowners pile the bags where needed.2017: There was a lack of communication when came to sandbags, said the report. Residents didn’t know they would be filling the bags themselves and there were no instructions on how to properly fill sandbags.Now: Members of Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue co-ordinate volunteers at sandbagging sites and brief them on the safest and most efficient ways to work. There have also been some innovations introduced to sandbagging, including using upside-down traffic cones as funnels to make bagging easier. “Since 2017, our team has researched how to do these things,” said Search and Rescue operations director Steven Nason.The city has also posted a video on how to build a sandbag wall.El-Chanitry said the city and armed forces personnel working in Constance Bay are also working from a flood map indicating the lowest points on the area, which helps them to prioritize who needs help first.2017: Residents were advised to call 311 for flood-related information, but accuracy and timeliness were hampered by the processes of getting information to the call centre. In some cases, the night shift didn’t leave a note for the morning shift, the report said.Now: 311 is now included in all situational meetings “so they get the freshest information,” said Poirier.2017: Waterways are monitored by a number of organizations, including the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board and the conservation authorities. But information didn’t get to residents fast enough, and more could have been done to provide communications and warning to residents in areas that were at risk of flooding, said the report.Now: City manager Steve Kanellakos counts better communications with the water authorities as one of the biggest improvements since 2017. The conservation authorities have been feeding the city information since March, and the city is now in hourly contact with the them, he said.The city created a spring freshet task force to identify opportunities for flood mitigation improvement for communities. Members include representatives from the city, the local conservation authorities, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the NCC.