Coastal Electric members help bring new life to storm-damaged Bryan County

A row of newly planted trees with volunteers in the background
Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation volunteers have planted and cared for more than 2,000 trees.

After an EF4 tornado destroyed hundreds of trees in north Bryan County, the tree canopy is being restored, thanks to a $25,000 grant made possible by the generosity of Coastal Electric Cooperative members.

The powerful tornado with winds of 185 miles per hour that swept through north Bryan County on April 15 was the strongest to strike the United States in 2022. The deadly twister stayed on the ground for 14 minutes—taking a life, injuring 12 more, and destroying many homes and hundreds of trees. In response, the Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation launched an ambitious campaign to replace lost trees in the areas affected by the storm.

In July 2022, the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation donated $25,000 to the Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation to purchase and plant new trees at Hendrix Park, near the Bryan County Courthouse, and in Ellabell’s Park Place Community. Phase I of the restoration project has now been completed.

The grant will go much further than just providing for the purchase of new trees. It also enables Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation volunteers to collaborate with local arborists and landscape engineers to craft a sustainable plan for the landscape design and planting that will prove most beneficial to the space and to the health of the trees far into the future.

New trees have already been planted near water features at Hendrix Park, and more will be planted near the Bryan County Courthouse when construction to repair storm damage is complete. The Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation plans to facilitate a tree giveaway in the residential Park Place Community, which was largely destroyed by the tornado and left many slab foundations swept clean of their homes.

Funding for Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation grants like this one comes from Coastal Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar through the Operation Round Up program. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

The Coastal Bryan County Tree Foundation began in 2001 as a volunteer outreach of the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce. Today, the foundation is an environmental education nonprofit with a focus on restoring canopy shade trees to the community. Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation volunteers have planted and cared for more than 2,000 trees in parks, schools, and other public and residential areas. Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation also monitors the health of the newly planted trees.

To find out how you can help the Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation, visit the website or Facebook.