Gulfport Plants 9/11 Survivor Tree Sapling
The Gulf Coast has been actively rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina washed away much of the area in 2005. Thursday, a special tree was planted in downtown Gulfport to signify that resilience. The City of Gulfport and Mayor Billy Hewes received a seedling tree from the 9/11 memorial’s survivor tree.
In the rubble at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks, one branch of a pear tree was sticking above the destruction, sprouting new leaves. The tree was recovered and scientists bred 450 saplings from the original tree to be given to communities affected by tragedy. Patrick Brewer, Division Manager of Bartlett Tree Experts, says, "It’s really grown to signify resilience and that’s why it’s here in Gulfport, because of the resilience after the Katrina devastation and the rebuilding after Katrina."
Gulfport is one of just three cities that are receiving a seedling from the survivor tree this year. Hewes says, "It’s just quite meaningful to our community for what it stands for. It’s a shared strength from tragedy that these communities have come from."
Other recipients of saplings this year include Oso, Washington, which was devastated by a mud slide, and Fort Hood, Texas, where there were active shooter attacks in both 2009 and 2014. Hewes closes, "It’s very symbolic, particularly that there’s an acknowledged shared strength from one city to another that we all have a lot in common when it comes to resilient rebuilding."
The freshly planted tree sits between the Gulfport Fire and Police stations. As the sapling grows, it’s meant to symbolize the hope and resiliency Gulfport and Gulf Coast will continue to have until we are fully rebuilt from the effects of Katrina.