Devastating destruction, loss of life and crippled infrastructure. Outside of the disaster zones, millions watched on TV screens and Twitter feeds the desolation left by natural disasters in recent months. And some, like civil engineer Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, rushed to the hardest-hit areas.
Traveling to the coast of Texas following Hurricane Harvey, Gutierrez Soto surveyed the damage and collected information that could help communities better withstand natural disasters in the future.
"It was a really eye-opening experience, seeing how people's lives changed because of this, how cities change," she said. "Some structures were fine, while others were totaled."
Gutierrez Soto and team members from other universities assessed the damage in Rockport and Holiday Beach, Texas, communities decimated by the hurricane. Investigating hundreds of residential buildings, the engineers looked for clues to explain why certain structures survived and others didn't.