Dear fellow staff members and students,
You will have seen from the University’s messages earlier today, and no doubt in the media, that the storm we have all experienced has done a lot damage to parts of our Sandy Bay campus. I know as we look at these images, we are also very aware of damage this storm has caused to other people’s homes, and especially of its impact on those who have no home at all.
I have just come off a call with our Crisis Management Response Team and I thought it would be helpful to update you on where we are at and the plans as we have from here. Also to express my appreciation to the great many staff working to meet peoples’ needs and put the campus to rights.
The most important thing is that students and staff are safe. As you may have heard, one of our security staff was trapped for a short time but happily I can report he is now safe. The animals we house at Sandy Bay and at Taroona are also all safe and being looked after.
Some of our buildings are badly affected. The Law School has been severely inundated and anyone with a love of books would have been very sad to see the pictures of the Law Library. Our Engineering Building has been very badly water damaged, as has our Corporate Services Building.
Amidst what can only be described as devastation in parts of these buildings, there are staff who have lost a lifetime’s collection of books and work. It is hard to put in words that sense of loss and to adequately express our empathy for them.
Students in the University accommodation at Sandy Bay have had the ground floors of their buildings flooded. The entire campus is without power because a major sub-station for Sandy Bay was flooded.
After ensuring people are safe, our immediate response has been to make spaces safe and to get temporary power to critical facilities like the freezers that house important experimental materials. Book restoration specialists are already on site looking after the rare and special books in the Law Library and we will work over the weekend on looking after other books.
For those students whose rooms were inundated, we have found them all alternative accommodation and for those students staying on campus, we have organised temporary power for basic lighting and catering till the mains power comes back on.
Looking ahead to next week, we are working to find alternative spaces for learning and teaching to occur and to make arrangements for staff who have lost offices.
We are aware that there are students living off campus who have been affected and we have been seeking to reach out to them to provide any assistance needed. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to email us at U.Connect@utas.edu.au.
We have a free, 24-hour employee assistance service for all our staff and their families, which can be contacted on 1800 650 204. For students who require support or assistance over the course of the weekend, please contact University support staff on 0400 965 689.
The Sandy Bay campus will remain closed until mains power has been restored and we are confident it is safe to be on campus. My colleagues will send out further updates around the reopening of campuses and alternative arrangements for learning, teaching and research for students and staff affected as they are finalised.
I am very aware from the messages that have come in that there is real sadness about the impact of this storm on a campus people love. We will fix it.
Can I thank the team of staff who started work late last night and have worked through the small hours to make sure people are safe and damage was minimised, and that are on the road to reopening the campus again. I know their tireless efforts will be greatly appreciated by all.
Once again, if anyone does need assistance please do reach out for help. In the meantime I wish everyone a safe and increasingly dry weekend.
Professor Rufus Black