GORDON, Ala. (WTVY) Serving as a home for wildlife, filters for our air and water and much more, the environmental value of trees is priceless.
However, one year after Michael, the loss of one of life’s most precious resources continues.
Much of the debris still hasn’t been cleared. It sits in piles, posing a deadly risk.
“There’s numerous spots across the county that could ignite during this drought, and cause even more damage to the current timber," explained forest specialist Brady Dunn.
While forestry commission personnel are still working on the damage Michael initially made, a secondary threat lurks within remaining trees.
Insect and disease outbreaks, like the ips beetle, which carries the blue stain fungi, can occur in in damaged and destroyed trees. This makes the few remaining healthy ones more vulnerable.
Many hurricane recovery efforts can be achieved quickly with enough money or resources, but the trees will not come back overnight.
“I estimate at least a generation, maybe 50 years for the forests in the Wiregrass area and Alabama, Georgia, Florida, to get back to normal," Dunn said.
Of the 40,000 aces worth of trees in Houston County that sustained damage, only 15,000 were salvageable.
“It was close to $20,000,000 worth of estimated loss that occurred," said Dunn.
John Meadows is still clearing away his own land.
“Blessed be the Lord, but this is a lot of devastation to a lot of people,” said Meadows.
This is a task Meadows was not expecting after retirement, but one he is willing to take on.
“This will take years to get it back to where it was, and it probably will not even occur in my lifetime," Meadows said, "but we'll get things back growing, and get it back. We will get the job done."