Late in the evening of Sunday 15th October UCC students received emails and texts from the university, alerting them to the status red weather warning put in place by Met Éireann for the following day regarding the then-Hurricane Ophelia. Soon after, it was announced that schools and colleges across the country, including UCC, would be closing for the day in the interest of safety. This shut-down included not only lectures, but all campus facilities, including the Boole library and the Mardyke Arena. It was also announced that a large majority of workplaces would close for the day, and buses and trains would not be running.
The day itself would give rise to the largest clean-up operation in Cork in modern history. Around the county more than 400 trees were felled by the storm. Thousands were left without electricity or running water. A video of the roof of Douglas Community School being torn off by the 190km/hr winds did the rounds on social media. Pictures of cars along Mardyke Walk destroyed by fallen trees also circulated. John Paul O’Shea, former Cork County Mayor, called the storm’s consequences “very, very sad” to see. Sadly Storm Ophelia was not content with felling trees, with 3 deaths across the country reported by news outlets being attributed to the storm.
It had been anticipated from the start that the university would re-open on the Tuesday, and this prediction proved correct, with campus re-opening as usual, and lectures re-commencing at 12 noon. Lectures, tutorials, and deadlines missed were to be rescheduled, as graduations took place as planned on the day, with slightly amended timing.
Return back to UCC for most students seemed rather anticlimactic after the drama of the previous day, with the only obvious sign of damage across campus being the noticeable absence of access to the Q+3 floor of Boole Library. However, this alone proved obstructive to some students studying arts and humanities, who required textbooks and materials from their designated floor. Fiona Carey, final year Arts International student, told the Express that not having access to Q+3 this week “has been very frustrating – being in final year I have deadlines almost every week and constantly rely on books from the library. While in one sense, I am thankful that there is no serious damage, not having access to books on the top floor over the past few days was extremely inconvenient and has definitely impacted my grades.”
Great thanks is owed to Nora Geary and the Emergency Management Team in UCC for all their hard work in keeping everyone safe over a dangerous couple of days.