How to Repair Downed and Damaged Trees in Kent County After a 2014 Tornado

On the night of July 7, 2014, an EF1-rated tornado blew through Kent County, leaving in its wake a significant amount of damaged trees and tree downage. It touched down near 64th Street and Burlingame Avenue, and was on the ground for 10 minutes and 6.25 miles. Fortunately, there were no deaths, but many homes and businesses were damaged beyond usability. The Red Cross was there to offer support to all those made temporarily homeless by this weather event. It’s going to be a long process of rebuilding for these people, and Chop offers its condolences and sincere best wishes to those affected.

Longer term, however, tornado damage robs communities of one of their most overlooked assets: their trees. While the average person can see how much beauty and grace mature trees add to a residential area, the benefits of trees are largely unappreciated. On a hot day, trees can be the difference between a pleasant stroll and a hot slog. Trees also keep your home’s temperature moderated, by shading them in summer and moderating ice cold winds in winter. Want to save on your home’s energy bills? Plant a tree on the west side of your house.

Trees stop erosion, slow sedimentation and pollution, and absorb excess rainwater so that cities’ runoff systems are not overloaded. They attract wildlife to the city, and provide food for animals and birds. Businesses in shopping centers with mature trees will see more foot traffic, and houses in neighborhoods with trees sell for more – on average 10 percent more. This is because people are attracted to trees for their aesthetic and calming benefits. There are so many good things about trees.

So what is next for the people affected in Kentwood, Wyoming, and Grand Rapids? After the clean up is accomplished, the rebuilding and replanting will begin. It is a challenge for a community to recover from an event as traumatic as a tornado, but many, like the citizens of Cardington, Ohio, have pulled together to resurrect themselves and create order and beauty again from chaos. They formed a tree plantingcommittee, and had group gatherings to plant and care for their new trees. There are many fast growing varieties of trees that can be used for good effect in these situations.

If you would like to help the people affected by July’s tornado, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are accepting donations. Contact the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming if you are interested in making a tree donation. They would appreciate your help in this arduous process.

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