Hundreds of Trees Replanted in Tornado-Damaged Rowlett

It’s been nearly a year since an EF-4 tornado tore through Rowlett.

The tornado damaged almost everything in its path including homes, businesses, and something many don't think about right after a disaster, trees.

Saturday, dozens of volunteers planted hundreds of new trees in Rowlett.

The volunteers are with a Dallas-based organization called RETREET.

The founder, Grady McGahan, says RETREET has held similar plantings in 14 communities across North America, but the call to action has never come this close to home,

“To be able to take the model that we've honed and the skills that we've developed and call in our volunteer base from all across the country, it is a very special moment, we're very proud and honored to be doing this,” McGahan said.

In Rowlett alone, 1,100 homes were damaged by the tornado. About 500 were heavily damaged. Many homes are being rebuilt but some are still down to the slab.

Volunteers from as far away as Los Angeles helped plant new roots in Bobbi Hartley’s front yard. Her neighborhood was ripped to shreds by the tornado.

“I burst into tears. It was really sad because all of our neighbors, we've been here since day one, sorry, and it was not, not our neighborhood anymore,” Hartley said, fighting back tears.

They may not have many leaves or thick trunks, the trees are still seen as a symbol of strength in an area forced rebuild from the ground up.

“Now we've got almost a new house again and now we've got a new yard too. It’s just really, very touching,” Hartley said.

About 250 trees were planted Saturday in Rowlett. Residents submitted tree requests online.

The Texas Trees Foundation, Keep Rowlett Beautiful, City of Rowlett and the Home Depot Foundation helped make the event possible.

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