News State Tasmania News University of Tasmania reopens after record flood

University of Tasmania reopens after record flood

Workers and volunteers have spent all weekend cleaning up. Photo: Natalie Whiting
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Three days after the University of Tasmania was ravaged by wild weather and flooding, the main campus will reopen on Monday, but there could be months of work ahead to repair damage.

The Sandy Bay campus has been among the hardest hit during wild weather which lashed southern Tasmania on Thursday night.

The clean up is continuing around Hobart and outer regions, with the damage bill estimated so far to be in the millions of dollars.

The university’s engineering, law and corporate affairs buildings experienced flooding.

“We’ll be shaped a little differently in parts, but we’ll be back to business tomorrow,” Jason Purdie from UTAS said.

“The fact that we have been able to minimise disruption, the fact that we are here after three days I think is real testament to what our people have been able to do.

“They may take weeks or months to get fully back to business as usual.”

There is no figure yet on how much damage the university has sustained.

Classes usually held in flood-affected areas will be moved to other parts of the university.

Dozens of staff have worked with contractors cleaning up the campus since Thursday night’s storm.

“The university is ordinarily a 24-hour operation, we do work around the clock, I would have to say we’ve taken that to extraordinary levels in the last few days,” Mr Purdie said.

Mr Purdie said the flood had “taken a toll” on the university.

“There are a lot of highly invested, highly passionate people who work here and they are people who have lost work, had equipment damaged, so there is an emotional component of this process.”

The Law Library was badly hit, with hundreds of books destroyed and some left strewn across lawns.

“The Law Library is a work in progress, we’ve secured and we are in the process of restoring and preserving our rare collection,” he said.

The Department of Education said all public schools, child and family centres and libraries in Hobart will also reopen on Monday.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to be in this position and we are very thankful of all staff, contractors and emergency workers who have worked tirelessly to get us to this position,” a statement read.

The wild weather left 12,000 properties without power and TasNetworks has been working across the weekend to repair infrastructure and reconnect homes.

But TasNetworks spokeswoman Samantha Hepburn said dozens of homes across the state were still without power on Sunday afternoon.

The University of Tasmania is still counting the cost of the damage.

“We are working as quickly as possible to restore power to affected customers however lack of access is preventing us in accessing work sites, particularly for customers in Molesworth where a bridge has washed out access to the site,” she said.

TasNetworks said it is difficult to know when power will be restored to all of the houses.

Tasmania Police advise several roads remain closed because of flooding.

Meanwhile the Hobart City Council has been “working around the clock” to clear debris and reopen roads.

Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie said engineers had been out inspecting roads and tracks but many around the city remained closed, including kunanyi/Mount Wellington’s Pinnacle Road.

“Some of the road of course has been covered in a lot of debris and that may be several days before its opened.”

Some roads in South Hobart also remain closed and the tip will be shut until at least Tuesday.

While residential rubbish collection will continue as normal, the council said plans were still being put in place for excess waste, and residents with extra rubbish will have to wait.

“We are asking anybody that may have collections of garbage or debris if you can hold on to it until further in the week that’s great,” the Mayor said.

“If you feel a necessity to dispose of it then we do thank the councils in Glenorchy also Clarence and the Margate tip for their assistance accommodating our residents with their rubbish.”

The Mayor said McRobies Gully tip had suffered several millions of dollars worth of damage and would remain closed until Tuesday.

Alderman Christie said neighbouring councils had offered to help by taking rubbish from Hobart residents until the tip reopens.

“We are asking anybody that may have collections of garbage or debris … to hold on to it until further in the week,” he said.

“But if you feel a necessity to dispose of it, then we do thank the councils in Glenorchy, also Clarence over at Mornington and the Margate tip.”

State government representatives will hold discussions with their federal counterparts to work out what support can be offered to victims of the floods.

“We need to have conversations with the Commonwealth Government in relation to natural disaster relief and whether that is indeed applicable for this occurrence,” Attorney-General Elise Archer said.

Ms Archer said the State Government was assessing the damage to see what support it might offer.

“We’ll carry out those further assessments today and in coming days and certainly indicate whether or not there needs to be any assistance package from the Government.”

Much of the damage from the storm was in Ms Archer’s seat of Hobart.

“The reaction from our emergency services and indeed from our local councils around Tasmania has been nothing short of extraordinary.”