Friday, June 20, 2014

“Regrow Salina” event plants hope in disaster-devastated community

By Mary Steffens, Red Cross Recovery Specialist

On a recent June weekend, more than 60 people came together to change the landscape in the small Boulder County enclave of Salina from one of devastation to one of hope and renewal.

The “BoCo Regrow Salina” event on June 7, 2014, was a community tree-planting project that really reinforced for me the wonderful things that can happen when you combine local community ownership, a few great leaders, and widespread coordination and collaboration towards disaster recovery.

In addition to being impacted by the September 2013 floods, the Salina community was also hard hit by the Fourmile Canyon fire and a previous flood in 2011. So, the Boulder County Long-term Flood Recovery Group (LTFRG), local case managers and Colorado Spirit came together to explore ways to help the struggling community and build community strength. They organized a tree-planting volunteer day in Salina with two goals in mind: to provide trees to households that had lost most of their trees to recent disasters, and to provide a boost to the spirits and community health of Salina by bringing the residents together in a collaborative, positive, empowering experience.

A local resident, Kay Cook, worked with individual Salina residents to pick out the trees. A case manager with the LTFRG was a former landscape architect and thus was able to secure trees at a discounted whole-sale price. The LTFRG also recruited and brought in 31 youth volunteers from Breckenridge to help with the tree plantings. The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado provided $5,000 in funding for most of the trees. And the American Red cross contributed about $2,800 in support for the project by providing shovels, gloves, soil, trees and lunch for the volunteer workers.

In order to “keep it local,” the Red Cross turned to Anne Brady to prepare lunch and snacks for the project - - Anne is the owner of the Salina Café, which was destroyed in the floods. Anne volunteered to make lunch for the volunteers and residents helping with the tree planting event. Local community leaders said they asked her to “prepare sandwiches and other things for the Saturday planting, since she is our cafe person, and we miss the breakfasts and dinners and her presence.”

BoCo Regrow Salina Event By the Numbers:
  • 31 volunteers (youths from Breckenridge) 
  • 30 Salina Residents
  • 18 homes 
  • 101 trees planted
  • 56 shrubs planted

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