Bay City gets re-planted 3 months af­ter tor­nado

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

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.

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