McGill flood costs could rise


The damage from the flood on the McGill University campus last week is now being assessed at several million dollars — a figure that could rise. “It’s a disaster,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, principal and vice-chancellor, adding that when 40,000 cubic metres of water broke out of the McTavish Reservoir, it was “like Niagara Falls” on campus. Initially, university officials said there were hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from the flood, which is still causing class relocations for the Wong and Birks buildings. Munroe-Blum said it’s still not known who is responsible for the cost, or whether the city will help out. And she said the provincial government lacked sensitivity when the school got two calls from senior government officials during the flood — one asking whether any research or labs had been affected, and the other asking McGill administrators where they were with $19 million in budget cuts that were imposed in December. “It was just astonishing,” said Munroe-Blum. On the other hand, the video of a McGill student trying to cross McTavish St. and being swept away by the flood waters has now received more than 1.2 million hits on YouTube — and you can’t buy publicity like that.