AS students returned to lectures at University College Cork yesterday, college authorities are still adding up the cost of flood damage to key buildings.
The value of the damage is believed to be more than €20 million.
All classes across the campus were cancelled following the flooding last Thursday week which caused extensive damage to some of the university’s key cultural, sports and research facilities.
While the main campus was largely unaffected, considerable damage was caused to newer buildings, including the recently-completed Western Gateway IT building on the former greyhound track at Western Road, the Mardyke arena and sports complex, student accommodation at Victoria Lodge, Castlewhite and University Hall, and at the award-winning Glucksman Art Gallery in the college’s lower grounds.
While questions have been asked about the wisdom of putting buildings such as the Glucksman and the Western Gateway on sites previously prone to flooding, UCC president Dr Michael Murphy said everything was still being assessed.
“It’s absolutely critical that there is a full establishment of all the facts to allow us plan for the future,” he said.
Any future building strategies are to be informed by the River Lee flood risk assessment study being finalised by the Office of Public Works.
“It will take three to six months to get our full building stock back into shape. But the most important thing is that our main function of teaching has been restored,” Dr Murphy said.
He praised the response of staff and neighbouring organisations in assisting UCC with efforts to assess and repair the damage.
According to the college’s building and estates office, more than 200 people were involved in the clean-up and recovery operation.
In a series of Frequently Asked Questions posted on the UCC website, it was stated that the Western Gateway building was built two metres higher than the original ground level.
“In relation to the Glucksman, the building was constructed over a metre higher than the lower ground and 200-300mm higher than protective berm on the bank of the river. The floods experienced last Thursday [week] were extraordinary and affected all recently constructed building in the west of the city,” it said.
In response to a question about the rationale for allowing basement areas of the Western Gateway and the Glucksman for expensive equipment and art storage, UCC authorities state that it is common practice to use basement areas for plant and storage areas.
“These areas are tanked to a high specification for protection against the ingress of ground water. As stated above, the floor levels are set above historical flood levels for the site,” the website states.
The recovery of art works from the basement of the Glucksman was continuing yesterday and the building will remain closed until further notice.
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