RUSTON, La. (KNOE) - Ruston continued its recovery efforts after last year's tornado uprooted more than 2,000 trees. Volunteers from the city and across the country planted 171 trees in some of the hardest-hit areas.
Volunteers pat down dirt around tree. (Source: KNOE)
Organizer Sarah Warren says that tornado was tragic, but"the silver lining was learning how resilient we are and how much we care about our community."
On Saturday, she and more than 150 others began planting four species of trees native to the area on 60 home sites in the city.
"Trees grow for hundreds and hundreds of years," Warren says. "So, we're never going to have a community that looks like what it used to, but we all acknowledge that we had to get trees back in the ground immediately, so that at least our grandkids could have a community like we do."
RETREET founder Grady McGahan says it’s important to replant those trees to reestablish the environmental identity of the community. "Of all the things that are lost, it's the trees that take the longest to replace, because you can't rebuild a tree," McGahan says.
"When that identity has been destroyed, it's very important part of the healing, both emotionally, environmentally, and economically to replant the trees so that people feel like it's going to feel like home again,” McGahan says. “Life is coming back to the area, that the area that they once knew and loved will look the way it used to or at least something similar."
Ruston mayor Ronny Walker says it's great to see so many people continue to help the city in its continued recovery efforts. "It's a big day. It really is to see these going in people's yards that were so devastated on April 25,” Walker says. “We are just really appreciative of all the help."
"The tornado was a tragedy, but there was also a blessing to it in that the best of Ruston was able to come out," Warren says.
The project was funded through the Lincoln Parish Fund and by Weyerhaeuser, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Keep America Beautiful and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.