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Volunteers Replant Kokomo After Devastating Tornado
Indiana Ag Connection - 11/13/2017

Last week, a coalition of regional and national partners, including RETREET, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and City of Kokomo will lead volunteers in planting 120 native 1.5" caliper trees, free of charge, at the homes of residents of Kokomo affected by the devastating EF3 tornado that struck on August 24, 2016. Residents of Kokomo submitted request for trees online through RETREET's website in September and October. Around 25 volunteers will travel to Kokomo from all over the US to join local volunteer groups in planting the trees along the path of the tornado. Saturday's planting will commence at noon at Highland Park (Highland Park, 900 W. Deffenbaugh St.,)and is expected to last through the afternoon.

KOKOMO RETREET will address an often-overlooked part of the recovery process. Trees are destroyed alongside infrastructure and housing in every disaster. While bringing life back to an area produces an immense psychological impact by making unfamiliar landscapes feel like home again, there are frequently no resources available to do this unique work. Most people struggling through the recovery process do not have time, energy, or funds required to replace their lost trees and, furthermore, do not know which trees should be planted where, or when is best to do so. Therefore, they are left rebuilding in utter devastation, with stumps serving as daily reminders of the catastrophe.

Of everything lost, mature trees are what will take the longest to replace.

"It's been a long journey back from the tornado. RETREET's volunteers and trees helped my community fill voids left by the devastation and bring smiles as we watch them grow -- a symbol that life is returning and this will be a great place to live again," said Rebecca Kasbaum, a resident of Moore OK, pointing out the impact RETREET's previous work has had in her community.

Additional support for KOKOMO RETREET is provided by The Home Depot Foundation, Heritage, and Duke Energy.

RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees. Since January 2012, RETREET has held 21 weekend events in 15 communities across North America, during which 321 unique volunteers, representing 21 different states and 6 foreign countries, joined thousands of local volunteers to plant 4,947 trees at over 1,000 homes, a donation of more than 8,500 volunteer hours.

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