More trees to replant as part of recovery efforts after Memorial Day tornadoes – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

A national organization has already planted 95 trees in Sinclair Park and some homes as a pilot planting following the devastating tornadoes that hit Memorial Day 2019.

Now, RETREET returns for another round of plantings on April 30.

The group leads a team of Miami Valley agencies and businesses working to make this recovery happen.

“To celebrate Arbor Day, we will be kicking off our neighborhood efforts in earnest where we will plant up to 175 trees at 100 housing sites that Saturday. This is our goal for the day and we aim to achieve it,” Grady McGahan, Director of RETREET.

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The group will move west to east along the path of the EF4 tornado from Brookville, then head east to Clayton, Perry Twp. then Trotwood on April 30.

Then, over the next 18 to 24 months, the organization will continue to host plantings from west to east, eventually ending in the affected area near Beavercreek and Riverside.

“Over the course of the campaign, we hope to plant 1,000 trees along the affected area, the tornado’s path from west to east,” McGahan said.

The trees will be 8 to 10 feet tall when planted. It will be a mix of biodiverse trees that McGahan says will strengthen the urban forest that was most severely damaged by the storm.

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“Of all that is destroyed in a natural disaster, it’s actually the trees that take the longest to replace. You can rebuild houses, roads and other infrastructure, but you can’t rebuild an 80-year-old oak tree,” McGahan said.

RETREET said the impact of this will last for generations to come.

Rap Hankins, who resides in Trotwood, said his home was devastated by the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak.

“That night I heard a tornado siren and thought nothing of it. Then I turned on WHIO and realized the tornado was just around the corner. And I went to the basement, and it felt like a freight train was going over my house,” Hankins said.

When he came out of his house, he said, “All the trees in my yard were gone.”

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“What RETREET is doing and what the Dayton Foundation is doing and everyone who has funded these efforts is doing, they’re actually bringing normalcy back to our area and they’re helping us heal for every tree that’s planted,” Hankins mentioned.

The application process is free and you can apply by visiting

“Anyone living in the Miami Valley Impact Zone is always welcome to request trees through our program. It is free to apply. As long as your home was affected by the tornado and you want to have trees planted by volunteers, you can come online and apply for those trees and be added to our planting list,” McGahan said.