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Assessing how Florence affected the very ground we stand on

A week after Hurricane Florence finally moved out of North Carolina, a small group of researchers moved into areas that were still reeling from the devastation. They were engineers and their goal was to see how the wind, rain and flooding had affected the Earth underlying the affected area. Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, or GEER, teams are made up of geotechnical experts from around the country who arrive at the scene of disasters to gather data on the effect that these extreme events -- from hurricanes to earthquakes -- have on the infrastructure and underlying geology of the affected region. To do this, GEER tries to bring in researchers as soon as possible after an event, without interfering with emergency response efforts. One challenge with Florence was that flooding continued in the hardest-hit regions long after the hurricane itself had passed on. From Sept. 24-27, a GEER team collected data at sites ranging from Goldsboro to Wilmington, all in the Neuse and Cape Fear river basins. Some of their findings were promising, others frustrating.

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