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Lamar University researchers assess coastline damage from Hurricane Laura with infrared drone

Since this year's hurricane season is expected to be especially active, the researchers are examining Hurricane Laura's damage to prevent future erosion.

SABINE PASS, Texas — For some, nature is calming, but for others, it is a place where they find answers. 

Researchers are studying the impacts of Hurricane Laura to prepare for the next storm. 

Lamar University professors and students were at McFaddin Beach Friday, Sept. 11 to examine erosion and damage to the coast. 

Since this year's hurricane season is expected to be especially active, the group of researchers are examining Hurricane Laura's damage to help with future restoration projects. 

"We have to do something for our environment and for our community," Professor Reda Amer said. "We are trying to find the scientific methods to minimize the erosion rates so we can keep our lands."

Dr. Amer is helping to lead this project. 

The group is using an infrared camera drone to survey the coast. Their initial research showed that Hurricane Laura pushed sand and debris inland. 

"I hope with this research that we come to a better understanding of the effects of water displacement." student Oliva Mikulencak said. 

Mikulencak is one of the students helping with the study. Since her classes were all online last semester, she said she is soaking up every moment of this research opportunity. 

"It's been really difficult with the pandemic," she said. "We're learning at home and it really giving us a really good opportunity to actually be out here and feel like you're learning in a real environment."

The data the group collects could lead to future coastal restoration efforts for Jefferson County. While the project is still in early phases, Amer said it will be worth the effort in the end. 

"This project—we need to support it, to restore our wetlands and to keep it for coming generations," he said.

Their damage assessment along the coastline will take a few months to complete, but then their findings will be turned over to Jefferson County.