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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Eric Keys received a ,9,000 grant Friday from the National Science Foundation to study the physical and social impact of Hurricane Dean on the southern part of Mexico, according to a UF press release.

Keys said the grant would fund a weeklong trip starting next week.

During the trip, he and his team will observe the changed behaviors of the area's residents as a result of the hurricane's destruction.

According to the press release, his team will incorporate six or seven people from UF, including faculty and graduate students.

It will also have researchers from the University of Alabama, the University of Virginia and Mississippi State University, and researchers from Mexico.

Hurricane Dean, a Category 5 storm that hit 15 countries and killed about 30 people from Aug. 17 to Aug. 21, was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

Insured losses were estimated from ,750 million to ,1.5 billion, according to The Associated Press.

Keys said he is particularly interested in the storm's effects on farming in the interior region of the peninsula.

"My feeling is that many people will move away from agriculture," he said. "Farming, at least in the short term, won't work."

Keys said he thinks residents might commute to a more populated city, such as Cancun, Mexico, to buy food.

Many residents might also move their families to the United States.

Another concern is the trees that have been knocked over in the area, Keys said.

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If the ground becomes too dry, dangerous forest fires could follow, he said.

Keys said he has studied the region for about 10 years.

But from the surveys he's collected, he said he has accumulated about 25 years worth of information about the area's agriculture.

His data also includes satellite images that show how the area has geographically changed over the years, he said.

With the data, Keys said it would be easy to immediately see the storm's effects.

As for specifics, Keys said he is unsure.

"I just don't know what we're going to encounter," he said.

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