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UNF Engineer And Researchers Find Significant Ground Damage In Vilano Beach and Hilliard Due to Irma

These photos from a GEER report show dune damage in Vilano Beach.

While inspectors were out surveying property damage after Hurricane Irma, a small team of researchers was looking for ground damage in Central Florida and here on the First Coast.

University of North Florida Civil Engineering professor Nick Hudyma was tapped by the volunteer organization GEER, which stands for Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, to head the team.

Hudyma said they spent three days checking out sinkholes in Central Florida, an earth dam in Hilliard and seawalls in Vilano Beach.

“What we found was, during the installation of the walls that were running perpendicular to the beach and extending back into the dunes, those portions of the walls were not extended back far enough,”  said Hudyma in explaining the seawalls failed to do what they were supposed to do.

Hudyma said what they learned is that in the future, seawalls along Vilano Beach need to be longer, deeper and better protected against sand erosion.

As for the probability that a big storm will cause sinkholes to suddenly form and start eating houses in Jacksonville, Hudyma says that’s very unlikely, given the make-up of the soil here in North Florida.

You can reach the full GEER report on the geotechnical damage in Central and Northeastern Florida here.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews.