The non-profit organization RETREET will plant dozens of trees in Port Aransas next weekend to help homeowners replace trees they lost due to Hurricane Harvey’s destructive wind.
“There are a lot of systems in place that address the loss of housing, infrastructure, vehicles, and stuff like that, but there’s nothing out there when it comes to replanting the trees that people lost,” RETREET President Grady McGahan said. “Out of everything that’s destroyed in a natural disaster, it’s the trees that take the longest to replace.”
On November 3, volunteers from across the country will plant around 160 trees at around 80 Port Aransas homes. One homeowner who’s receiving free trees from RETREET is the city’s planning and development director, Rick Adams.
“I’m just looking forward to something that will grow,” Adams said. “As long as we’re here, the kids will be able to enjoy it and we’ll watch it grow. Kind of starting over a little bit.”
RETREET is able to offer free trees and the labor required to plant them through donations including large donations from Keep America Beautiful and the Home Depot Foundation. McGahan and some friends started the organization in response to the wildfires in Bastrop County, Texas in 2011 that destroyed entire neighborhoods.
“Our idea was to go down and offer to replant trees for people who had been living in pretty heavily wooded areas who were now living in a barren wasteland in a lot of cases,” McGahan said.
McGahan urges anyone in the Coastal Bend who lost trees to Harvey to go to his organization’s website, retreet.org, and request a tree. He says, while the first tree replanting event may be in Port Aransas, RETREET plans to hold similar events in other hurricane-battered communities.
“When RETREET makes a commitment to a community or into a disaster relief effort itself, we make the commitment for the long term,” he said. “So, as long as people are requesting trees from us in an area, we will continue to plan projects to come down and address those requests.”