Bay City gets re-planted 3 months after tornado
STEVENSVILLE — The culmination of a project begun after an EF-2 tornado ripped through Stevensville in July, damaging homes, power lines and yards along its two-mile path of destruction, came to an end this past weekend, finishing the task of re-planting 30 yards in total over Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21 and 22. “Today this tree project is officially finished,” said project leader Lucy Kruse.
Hundreds of trees were lost in the storm as tree limbs were lodged into homes, branches held electrical lines down to the ground, and debris, scattered throughout the damaged communities, was littered across the area after the early morning storm made landfall off the Chesapeake Bay.
“I am both relieved to be finished and a bit melancholy,” said Kruse, “The tree committee that has been meeting each week and has been in constant communication for the past three months said goodbye this afternoon, with hugs, a few tears, and wished each other well. We were once strangers ... and now we are friends. The connections created by this monumental, logistically challenging project will surely last a lifetime. I’m sure every one of us tonight is reminiscing about how we pulled this off.”
What started out as a topic of conversation during a town hall meeting following the devastating storm quickly ramped up into a full-fledged community project, said Kruse. The state and county didn’t have the resources to re-plant the trees lost, and more than just aesthetics, Kruse said the trees were part of the Critical Area along the Chesapeake Bay; without the larger trees and root systems in place flooding in areas of Bay City was now becoming problematic.
Working on a tightly coordinated schedule, the 475 trees donated — totaling a retail value of over $35,000 — were delivered on the previous weekend, Oct. 14. Volunteers were recruited for Phase II Volunteer Tornado Restoration Tree Planting Day, gathering at the Bay City Pavilion. After a full day of tree planting on Saturday, the group wrapped up on Sunday with mulching and reseeding. Trees were also planted in the Anchorage community near the Kent Island Cracker Barrel as well as the Catholic cemetery along U.S. 301, said Kruse.
“To those kind hearted souls who showed up to help,” said Kruse, “Thank you. We especially appreciate those parents who brought their kids out today. Our youngest volunteer was just 2 years old .... It’s never too soon to teach your children the beauty of community service. So thank you. Continue to pay it forward. And no doubt you and your family will be duly rewarded.”
Committee members Tony O’Hare, Jean Howard, Chris Adrian Wiseman, Ericka Koziole, Bridgette McclureLundfelt, Maria Pesnell, Charley Pesnell, Lisa Napoli, and Jill Ferris worked tirelessly to organize the effort to meet the fall planting deadline, week after week they dedicated time to this logistically challenging project, said Kruse, along with many others who stepped forward to offer their help.
Kruse said she was incredibly pleased to report no underground lines were hit during the planting, and the entire weekend was accident free.
Fields of Heather provided pastries and Dunkin’ Donuts, hot coffee; Dave Perry of Casual Caterers grilled burgers to feed the workers; and Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church provided desserts. Porta Johns were donated by the Bay City HOA, and the Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works provided the composted mulch.
Kruse also wanted to recognized the equipment operators, who did much of the “heavy lifting” getting the trees distributed and digging in holes for the larger trees, Economy Trees, Gardner Tree Service, Bartlett Trees, Execu-Lawn, MYCO Construction Services, LLC, Scott Saunders of Coldwell Banker Waterman Realty, and Tony O’Hare.
The biggest take away from the project for her was this lesson, Kruse said, “Volunteer service is so important ... to augment what the county and state provides, but to also show not to just rely on the government to provide what is needed.”
“Thank you, Bay City, for your tenacity and perseverance in adversity. You are setting an example for all,” Kruse said.
From left, volunteers and committee members Tony O’Hare, Paula Stouten, Lucy Kruse (project leader), and Bridgette Lundfelt.