In the wake of the devastating wildfires in Colorado's Black Forest, a research team from Kent State University will heading out to the area to assess the damage and conduct research.
Assistant Professor of Geography at Kent State Dr. Jackie Curtis explains how the two-person team will do their research on post-wildfire neighborhood recovery.
"Our focus is on the Waldo Canyon Fire," she says. "It started last year around June 23, so this will be the one year anniversary of that fire."
Kent State grad students Andrea Szell and Rachel Will will be leaving for Colorado Saturday and will return to Ohio Monday.
(from left to right Andrea Szell and Rachel Will holding the cameras they will be using to collect data in Colorado Photo Credit Aaron Coleman, AkronNewsNow.com)
"We went out there six months ago after the fire to look at recovery, so now our grad students will be going out there to see what's happened after a year."
Szell says the video cameras she and Rachel will be using this upcoming weekend will be used not only to collect data, but also analyze post disaster environments as it relates to stress.
"When we get out in the field, we take two cameras on each side of the car, we mount them on the car and we navigate through the study area road by road," she says.
"We then take the spatial video data of each street in the neighborhood."
The pair will be using spacial video for the Waldo Canyon Fire Project, which is the second of two trips primarily used for data collection, but with the Black Forest fire occuring in the same vicinity, they will collect damage data on it as well.
Szell says she's looking forward to the trip.
"We're really excited about the trip and I think we'll be getting so much more out of this trip then we've expected when we actually planned the trip before the Black Forest Fires happened."
As of Thursday, the fire is reportedly 95 percent contained and has claimed nearly 500 structures and two lives.
The Waldo Canyon Fire Project is funded by the University of Colorado's Natural Hazards Center.
Rachel Will says the spatial video used to collect data from the disaster sites in Colorado this weekend will aid her research into health concerns of residents as well as damage from the wildfires.
"They are a very powerful tool to help analyze post-disaster recovery," she explained.
"I think it will be a interesting project and a real eye-opening experience."
Szell says she will serve as the navigator this weekend while Rachel drives the vehicle.
Both Szell and Will say this "hands on" real-world experience will be a benefit to them as they continue along both their academic and professional paths.