LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The March 2012 tornado that swept through Laurel County is still a recent memory for the majority of the East Bernstadt community. Each local vendor, gas station owner, churchgoer, school teacher and student has his or her own version of the event, and every version is equal in terms of gravity.
While many East Bernstadt citizens have taken successful strides in moving forward, a constant reminder still exists in the form of a weathered environment.
Three days in April, however, will attempt to offer at least the beginning of a catharsis by way of the Kentucky Tree Recovery Campaign, a joint effort between the Kentucky Division of Forestry and the Arbor Day Foundation to reforest areas affected by the March 2012 tornadoes.
“This is all part of the healing process,” said London Tree Board director Karen Wyan. “Whatever those affected by the tornado have done to settle back into their normal lives, we hope to add to it by replenishing their environment.”
In conjunction with the City of London Public Works, the London Tree Board and the Arbor Day Foundation, seedlings will be available at the Dixie Street Fire Station, the London Farmer's Market, and East Bernstadt Fire Department April 7, 8 and 9 to celebrate Arbor Day.
The Division of Forestry will also visit East Bernstadt Elementary on April 8 for an Arbor Day program directed at students. Seedlings will also be provided for them to take home. Residents are also being encouraged to take extra seedlings home as they arrive to pick up their children from school. This gives residents a chance to volunteer and participate in their community’s own recovery.
“It’s very important that East Bernstadt School is involved in the events,” said Vicki Jones, superintendent. “Many of the students remember the event and were very much a part of the community when the tornadoes occurred.”
Other environments affected included portions of Campbell, Johnson, Laurel, Menifee and Wolfe counties.
"According to statistics from the Forestry Service, East Bernstadt lost the most trees in the counties affected by the tornadoes,” Wyan said.
For more information on the upcoming reforestation at East Bernstadt and other parts of Laurel County, contact Pete Barber with the Division of Forestry at (502) 564-4496.