Port Aransas (KIII News) — The University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas was battered by Hurricane Harvey's strong winds causing severe damage to several buildings at the research site.

On Tuesday the community came together to celebrate the reopening of one of the lab buildings at the institute.

Scientist are looking forward to getting back into their labs, and the opening of the building is a big step in their recovery.

When residents walk the halls of the estuarine research center, it's clear to see just how much work has been done over the last year.

"The damage was extensive I was here after the storm hit, we lost about three football fields of roofing, said Robert Dickey, director of UT Marine Science Institute.

Three football fields worth and $45 million in damage.

"It has been down since August 25th of last year. we are at the one year anniversary of the storm, and we are pleased to bring this facility back online, to give our students and faculty a new recovered home to continue their work in marine science," Dickey said.

Among the dignitaries on hand for the reopening ceremony was the University of Texas president Greg Fenves.

"We immediately put our teams in place to begin that recovery, started to plan for the rebuilding and monitor it closely," Fenves said.

Out of 74 buildings on campus, the institute lost six when it was impacted by Harvey's 130 miles per hour winds and heavy rain.

Currently, reserve director Jace Tunnell has been back in the building for three weeks.

"How nice is it to get back in this building? nice everyone has been working out of different spaces, corpus or other parts of Port Aransas, now to be back in this building, we can get back to work," Tunnell said.

While there is still much to repair the reopening of the research center, one of three main lab buildings on campus is a victory.

"To walk through the labs and offices it looks brand new, if someone didn't know that the hurricane hit a year ago, they wouldn't believe it," Fenves said.

Leaders at the institute anticipate opening to the public in the spring of 2019.

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