Volunteers plant hundreds of trees for Wimberley flood victims

The historic flood that ravaged parts of Wimberley on Memorial Day weekend ruined lives, hundreds of homes and thousands of trees, but RETREET volunteers spent Sunday bringing new life to the area.

“Obviously, if you look around, there's tons of devastation from the flood and the two floods that were just here,” said Deb Culbertson, a volunteer with RETREET.

Thousands of trees in Wimberley were snapped in half by the rain swollen river on that stormy night and as people work to rebuild their lives, the broken remains of the old Cypress trees are a constant reminder of the heartache that hit the small town.

“When something like this happens, it's completely unexpected and vulnerabilities keep hitting you from so many directions because of what's happened to you. You've lost your home, you may have lost a loved one, you've lost your clothes, your food,” said Culbertson. 

Sunday, thanks to 75 volunteers with RETREET people in Wimberley will see the beginning of new life instead of destruction.

“When you look outside your front door, what do you see? There was a tree there before and you've lost that. It doesn't just change what your front yard looks like, it changes how you feel about your life when you walk out your front door,” Culbertson said.  

“The reality of replanting the trees is, of everything that’s lost in the community in a disaster the trees are going to take the longest to replace,” Executive Director of RETREET Grady McGahan said. 

200 trees found a new home in Wimberley along River Road in the yards of 37 people who lost so much in the flood.

“Each home is going to receive five trees; two Chinkapin Oaks, two Texas Ash and one Cedar Elm. These are all species that will do well in this area. They were selected by the Texas A&M Forest Service,” said McGahan. 

The growing trees will be a constant a reminder of the recovery of Wimberley.

“We're getting an amazing response. We're getting thanked so many times and we haven't even finished the job yet. And overall there’s just an overall feeling of gratitude and hope that you can come back from this,” said Culbertson. 

RETREET started after the 2011 Bastrop fire. This is the nonprofit’s fourth year planting trees in areas devastated by natural disasters.

They expect to plant more trees in Bastrop County in February because of the Hidden Pines fire.

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