They were given only a few hours’ notice to collect their belongings from their rooms at the Derwent student accommodation in Ranmoor Student Village, and they have been told the fault will take at least a week to fix.
When the fire alarms went off at 8pm on Sunday, students gathered outside the building.
Ellie Fletcher, a 19-year-old student living there, said: “Me and my flatmates saw quite a lot of smoke coming from under one of the apartments, out of the boiler room.”
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said it had no report of the incident, so the building’s managers ‘must have got the situation under control’ themselves.
A university spokesperson said: “This weekend’s severely exceptional weather caused flooding in the basement of Derwent which affected the building’s electricity supply.
“Our maintenance team has been working hard to restore power to the building and although electricity was temporarily restored yesterday, further work is now needed.
“As we expect the power at Derwent to be disrupted for the minimum of a week, all students affected have been offered alternative accommodation and help with moving their belongings.”
After residents left the building on Sunday, they got moved to The Edge, a communal living area with a café in a different building, and were given drinks while they waited on an update.
At 10.30pm that night, the 315 students living in Derwent were told they couldn’t return to their rooms and had to find alternative sleeping arrangements with friends or, if they didn’t have anywhere to stay, were put up in a hotel and unoccupied halls.
The following morning, students were told they could return to their rooms.
Many had already missed lectures at that point, Ms Fletcher being one of them.
She said: “We couldn’t go into our flat for 15 hours, which was very annoying because I haven’t gone into uni today since I didn’t have spare clothes or my laptop or anything like that.
“It would have been quite pointless going in and I know no one else really went in either.”
On Monday evening, they were told they wouldn’t be allowed back into their flats again.
Ella Vernon, 18, said: “We were really scared as we didn’t know what was going to happen to our stuff or how long we weren’t allowed back.
“So far, we got free breakfast, food credits and they have refunded us for three nights of our halls, but I think the communication could have been a lot better.”
The nightmare for students didn’t end there. They were told at around 12pm on Tuesday that they would have to gather their belongings to move into temporary alternative accommodation for at least a week.
A spokesperson for the Accommodation Team said: “The apartment block has some maintenance issues, mainly with the water pumps and electricity, so it is unsafe for anyone to live there.
“We had to organise temporary accommodation, split across three accommodations in the city. We are currently making sure they have everything they need and where they are going is
The university said additional compensation would be reviewed once it is clear how long the disruption will last.