University College Cork has postponed all lectures due to take place this week after extensive flooding of the university’s grounds. The flooding occurred as a result of heavy rain last week, which caused the River Lee to burst its banks.
UCC Students’ Union Deputy President, Ian Power, told The University Observer that “significant damage” had been incurred to the student accommodation complexes, which were expected to be uninhabitable for at least two to four weeks due to problems with electrical supply damage and water damage.
Power also revealed that there has been “serious flood damage” to fourteen of the teaching and research facilities including a brand new €100m information technology building, and an extension to the Tyndall photonics, electronics and networking research institute. “Our sports arena, swimming pool and indoor sports hall were all under five feet of water,” he continued, saying that the repair bill for damage in UCC was expected to run into millions of euro.
Students living in the Castlewhite apartments had to be evacuated, with Power estimating that up to 2,000 students were affected by the floods. In an attempt to temporarily house the students, UCC Students’ Union has urged local hotels, hostels and guesthouse owners to accommodate the students until the floodwaters subside, as at least 300 students are presumed effectively homeless.
Normal operation of the university is not expected to resume until Monday 30th November at the earliest, with all assessment deadlines this week having been pushed back seven days. UCC have extended the current term by one week to account for the disruption to teaching as a result of the flooding.
Power reported that the college had lost about a quarter of its lecture theatre capacity, but added that the UCC management were confident of being able to restore the regular timetable within a week.
The UCC campus is situated before the split in the River Lee, therefore rising water levels have consequences on either side of the campus. The river eventually broke through the quay wall at Grenville Place, causing the ground floor of the Mercy University Hospital to flood. Patients and staff were also evacuated following this water breach.
Locals have blamed the ESB for the surging water levels in the Lee. They say the company released a massive volume of water into the river at the Iniscarra dam approximately eight miles from the city in an attempt to prevent contamination of the city’s water supplies. This discharge gave the river enough power to burst its banks further downstream.