Strengthening a Community's Spirit | NECN

Strengthening a Community's Spirit



    Department of Conservation helps Brimfield, Mass. homeowners replant trees destroyed in 2011 by a tornado (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Scot Yount, Brimfield, Mass.) - "Great symbolism today," said Ed Lambert, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

    And a look toward the future.

    Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes ripped through the town of Brimfield, Mass., the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation, along with volunteers, are planting public shade trees to help turn back the damage.

    "When you look around, you realize that there is now way you can replace the natural landscape that has been devastated, but by the same token amongst all that woody debris, we're able to plant some hope," said Lambert.

    It is hard to believe the damage, even today.

    "Totally different, like seeing it in person than it is on the TV," said Sabrina Graf, a volunteer who is here because of what she saw on that TV.

    "Just the devastation, just seeing everything, and all the trees being destroyed and a lot of people need help planting and I thought it would be a good thing to do," said Graf.

    In all, about 90 people, including the volunteers, have worked on this laborious project. It is just a small dent in the tremendous damage suffered by this town, but the areas of forest that used to be might now be once again covered in healthy trees.

    "We've talked to every landowner we are planting today, and their extraordinarily positive and enthusiastic so it is really the benefit is the community building you see going on here with all these volunteers and residents," said Eric Seaborn, Urban Forestry Coordinator.

    And if nothing else, that has made it worth holding on.

    "Horrible, it is you know, sad, right after the tornado I wanted to move," said Diane Panaccione, who has been here now 36 years.

    But a year later, Panaccione is singing a different tune.

    "We're making a dent, we're getting cleared up, we're planting, you know, we are gonna have start grass seeding everything." said Panaccione.

    In all, the DCR is conducting 9 plantings, to help bring back the trees, and strengthen a community's spirit.