Tornado tree removal project kicks off

A local nonprofit plans to aid tornado survivors with fallen trees, as funding allows.

Crews worked to remove the first in a series of tornado-damaged trees Tuesday morning as part of a broader project to help Memorial Day tornado victims still rebuilding.

Tree removal can be too expensive for people on fixed incomes while also being too technical for DIY or volunteer groups to help out. Because of this need, Rebuilding Together Dayton is branching out from its usual safe and healthy housing projects to direct funds to help with the tree removal.

Alexandria Mattackal with Rebuilding Together said the nonprofit aims to help about 50 to 70 people who need tornado-removal assistance, but that number will depend on the nonprofit’s ability to secure funding. This first round, they are planning 11 tree removals.

“Tree removal after the tornado is a really huge need,” Mattackal said.

The first tree to be removed was outside the home of Heather Weikert, who lives with her grandfather in Harrison Twp. Weikert said they would be unable to afford the tree removal on their own.

“To be able to receive this is a huge blessing, and we’re so grateful,” she said.

When the tornado struck in May 2019, she said it lifted and shifted the roof on their home, and they had to replace every window.

“It’s been a year-long exhaustion. I’ve never felt so tired,” Weikert said.

The limbs of the damaged trees are weakened, and they’ve been falling on their fence, she said, pointing to some damage where the fence was bent.

Many residents in the region have faced a long process toward recovery, with gaps between the funds needed for repairs and what their insurance or own savings can cover.

The Dayton Daily News previously reported that many residents were still rebuilding when the pandemic hit. This left some area residents sheltering in damaged homes, some still patched with blue tarps.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus also led to the cancellation of an influx of volunteers and community resources scheduled last spring to rebuild neighborhoods devastated by the record 16 tornadoes on Memorial Day 2019.

About the Author