Thirty-one days ago - while I was in Springfield hearing confessions at the Catholic Leadership Institute (I could see the storm approaching as my chair faced the external windows) - the city of Quincy was struck by a severe straight line wind event that destroyed a staggering quantity of trees - some 350 in the city's right of way alone - in my beloved hometown.
Though, remarkably, no one suffered any injuries as a direct result of the storm, the sight of so many fallen trees across the city has saddened most every Quincyan because, as Mary Oakley Winters told the Quincy Herald-Whig, "Trees and Quincy are always mentioned in the same sentence." Here claim is true, and anyone who has visited the Gem City knows how beautiful our trees - especially our dogwoods - were and how beautiful they will be again.
So shocking was this storm to the people of Quincy - myself included - that I referred to it in my homily the following weekend:
Just one of many fallen treesThis past Monday evening, a great “straight line wind” event struck my home of Quincy, leaving behind a scene of great damage throughout the city. By God’s good grace, no one was injured, but windows were broken, a roof was torn off of at least one building, power lines and light poles were downed, and great and old trees – no small part of the city’s beauty – were blown apart and ripped from the ground. Even the cemeteries were not spared. The city is still working on cleaning up the wake of destruction; soon, though, things will be set right and we will begin the replanting of our beloved trees.As I returned to Quincy Friday evening after a little more than a week away, my heart was moved with pity both for the city itself and for its inhabitants. Tears formed in my eyes as I saw what happened to the city I hold so dear. Seeing pictures on Facebook and in the news is one thing, but seeing it with my own eyes was something quite different. Even so, the wreckage of what can be seen in Quincy is nothing in comparison with what we learned of one year ago in Iraq, of the devastation the Iraqi Christians continue to endure for whom our hearts must surely be moved with pity [more].
The efforts of cleaning up the devastation left behind is well underway and gets closer to completion with each passing day. Still, we must still set things right and replant our trees.
To this end, Mayor Kyle Moore announced this morning the Trees for Tomorrow campaign to replant the city of Quincy:
Fittingly, the press conference was held at Madison Park, one of the most devastated areas in the city."Our forefathers had the vision to make trees an important part of our city and our heritage -- and 175 years from now, trees will still be an important part of Quincy," Moore said.Mary Oakley Winters, vice president of interactive for Quincy Newspapers Inc., and a member of Trees for Tomorrow, said the campaign to replace the trees is a testimony to the people of Quincy [more].
The Trees for Tomorrow campaign will focus on replanting the city's parks - which lost some 350 trees - has already raised $30,000, enough to replant 109 trees. It's a good start, but there's a long way to go.
If you'd like to help Quincy work toward restoring its former beauty, you can send a tax-deductible donation payable to Trees for Tomorrow/QSFA together with this form to:
Trees for TomorrowP.O. Box 1001Quincy, Illinois 62306
Online donations cannot yet be accepted, but soon they should be able to be received.