JAWS team conducts underwater assessment of Panama City Marina

Published: Mar. 1, 2019 at 6:34 PM CST
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FSU Panama City student Brenda Grimm said, "I am here today with FSU underwater crime scene." But for class Friday, she's taking on a new title; public information officer.

She's one of the students who took part in Friday's Joint Agency In-Water Strike team, or JAWS for short, assessment of the Panama City Marina. The team consists of the Panama City Fire Department, Bay County Sheriff's Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and FSU Panama City's Underwater Crime Scene Investigation Program.

The team is assessing the underwater debris left by Hurricane Michael using sonar mapping technology.

Although the students are taking part in role play for their class, the results from Friday will have real-life implications.

"We were asked just to document all the damage and everything that's in the water and underneath," explained Grimm. Once the data is collected and studied, she said, "We're gonna put it all into a program or a project and then display it for the Emergency Management and Bay County."

Mayor Greg Brudnicki says this is the first underwater assessment he knows of that has been done since the hurricane. "We know that everything has to be cleaned up. This'll give us an idea of just exactly what it's gonna cost to clean up. You know, we'll get some idea of the debris," said Brudnicki.

While the students may be getting a taste of their future, their professor says this is still considered their classroom. "Part of this is their report and presentation that they will be heavily graded on for the semester," says Jerome Fleeman, professor & dive safety officer at FSU Panama City.