Guest Author: Mike Allen
Editor: Patrick Cooney
It has been quite a year since I wrote about the impact of Hurricane Hermine striking the Florida coast and the University of Florida Nature Coast Biological Station in early September 2016. This category 1 storm walloped our communities, with low-gradient shorelines in this region contributing to a large storm surge that caused extensive flooding. Many homes in Cedar Key and neighboring communities were damaged, and the highest storm surge in Florida was measured at 7.5 feet above average tide levels in Cedar Key.
Just a year ago, our offices received over four feet of water in the surge. The sand bags and tape on the doors that we placed to keep water out actually held water in that had come through the windows! Fortunately for the new lab facility of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, construction had only just begun, so there was little damage to the construction site.
Nearly all local businesses have repaired damage and reopened. Because of these repairs, it is difficult to notice the effects of the storm while taking a walk across this small coastal town. That said, it was truly a storm we will not forget.
In the year that has transpired we have seen major progress, and our grand opening of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station is scheduled for September 23, 2017. So, just over a year after the storm the new lab facility will open for business.
Progress on science has continued unimpeded over the past year, and faculty and graduate students have worked on projects ranging from the economics of oyster aquaculture to fisheries and wildlife studies. Graduate students are working on ecology of diamondback terrapin, shore birds, fish communities, and oyster reef restoration. Work on natural resources in our region continues, but we will long remember Hurricane Hermine and the year that followed this storm.