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Trees planted by Tech student survive tornado unscathed

Karen Stevens questioned how trees planted in her backyard by a Tech student survived the March 3 tornado virtually unscathed.

“I don’t understand why these trees are still standing when my weeping cherry tree in the front yard did not,” she said. “When my neighbor’s houses had so much damage.”

Stevens’ house received some damage while houses next door were knocked off their foundations.

Her oak trees planted in 2005 still had their leaves after the EF-4 tornado.

“These appear to be oaks – by their residual leaves, and young, which would imply good flexibility,” horticulture professor Douglas Airhart said after reviewing photographs of the trees.

Stevens, a Tech alumna, moved into her house on Prosperity Lane in 2005 after spending 22 years in California using her business management degree. The subdivision was new, built after developers cleared most of the trees on the property.

“I felt guilty about buying the house when I saw all the trees that had been cleared to build it,” she said.

Stevens said she was thrilled when a Tech student came to her door asking to plant some trees in her backyard. Several did not survive the sapling stage due to a lawnmower, she said.

“I wish I could get in touch with the young man who planted them for me,” Stevens said. I would love for him to know how much they have meant to me.”

The day after the tornado, Stevens looked out her window to see more Tech students doing a good deed.

She said the students were picking up debris throughout the neighborhood.

“It just touched my heart,” she said. “I was overwhelmed by their kindness.”

The oak trees, planted by a Tech student in 2005, sit unscathed on Karen Stevens property in the aftermath of the March 3 tornado.