LSU department studies flooding impact, how to live with natural disasters

Posted on on 8/31/2016.

Through the LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, students have an opportunity to study natural disasters like the recent flooding to prevent future ones, said Louisiana Sea Grant College Program executive director Robert Twilley, an oceanography and coastal sciences professor.

Barry Keim, a geography professor and Louisiana State Climatologist, referred to the flood as an infant hurricane. The low winds of 38 mph kept the storm from developing into a tropical storm.

Keim said Baton Rouge experienced a 100-year event with the flood waters reaching 14.5 inches. The minimum to be considered a 100-year event is 14.2 inches.

The federal government declared 20 parishes disaster areas, including East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa.

By having students fix the problem here, Twilley said a solution can be found for areas affected by water around the rest of the world.

There are four research groups on campus. Twilley said the students are working on hazard mitigation in the Mississippi River Delta.

University professors involved in the research groups include Craig Colten in the Department of Geography and Anthropology, Nina Lam and Margaret Reams in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Coastal Sustainability Studio Director Jeff Carney, Center for River Studies Director Clint Willson and Sea Grant Law and Policy Program Director Jim Wilkins.

These professors conduct research with students on many aspects of flooding, such as hazard mitigation and migration patterns, designing buildings to withstand flood conditions and analyzing river and upland flooding issues.

“It is a very integrated research community here at LSU that is addressing a very complex and serious problem for all deltas around the world,” Twilley said. “And we all have graduate and undergraduate students delving into specific questions to solve these problems.”

With a location close to the Gulf of Mexico and a history of natural disasters, the University is one of the top schools in the country to learn how to live with water, Twilley said.

He has noticed that students who take a particular interest have lived through the disasters of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ivan. He said the personal connection made a lasting impression on students to make a change.

“Our students know it because they lived it,” Twilley said.